At first it had no name. It was the thing itself, the vivid thing. It was his friend. On windy days it danced, demented, waving wild arms, or in the silence of evening drowsed and dreamed, swaying in the blue, the goldeny air. Even at night it did not go away. Wrapped in his truckle bed, he could hear it stirring darkly outside in the dark, all the long night long. There were others, nearer to him, more vivid still than this, they came and went, talking, but they were wholly familiar, almost a part of himself, while it, steadfast and aloof, belonged to the mysterious outside, to the wind and the weather and the goldeny blue air. It was part of the world, and yet it was his friend.
Look, Nicolas, look! See the big tree!
Tree. That was its name. And also: the linden. They were nice words. He had known them a long time before he knew what they meant. They did not mean themselves, they were nothing in themselves, they meant the dancing singing thing outside. In wind, in silence, at night, in the changing air, it changed and yet was changelessly the tree, the linden tree. That was strange.
Everything had a name, but although every name was nothing without the thing named, the thing cared nothing for its name, had no need of a name, and was itself only. And then there were the names that signified no substantial thing, as linden and tree signified that dark dancer. His mother asked him who did he love the best. Love did not dance, nor tap the window with frantic fingers, love had no leafy arms to shake, yet when she spoke that name that named nothing, some impalpable but real thing within him responded as if to a summons, as if it had heard its name spoken. That was very strange.
He soon forgot about these enigmatic matters, and learned to talk as others talked, full of conviction, unquestioningly.
The sky is blue, the sun is gold, the linden tree is green. Day is light, it ends, night falls, and then it is dark. You sleep, and in the morning wake again. But a day will come when you will not wake. That is death. Death is sad. Sadness is what happiness is not. And so on. How simple it all was, after all! There was no need even to think about it. He had only to be, and life would do the rest, would send day to follow day until there were no days left, for him, and then he would go to Heaven and be an angel. Hell was under the ground.
Matthew Mark Luke and John
Bless the bed that I lie on
If I die before I wake
Ask holy God my soul to take
He peered from behind clasped hands at his mother kneeling beside him in the candlelight. Under a burnished coif of coiled hair her face was pale and still, like the face of the Madonna in the picture. Her eyes were closed, and her lips moved, mouthing mutely the pious lines as he recited them aloud. When he stumbled on the hard words she bore him up gently, in a wonderfully gentle voice. He loved her the best, he said. She rocked him in her arms and sang a song.
See saw Margery Daw
This little chicken
Got lost in the straw
The beginning of Dr. Copernicus describes how a little child, Nicolas, comes to connect objects and words. At first, he recognizes things as the thing itself and then comes to use words as others do. However, it does not mean he has lost the first impressions. His memories with the linden tree and his mother are deeply rooted in his mind; his vocabulary is based on those impressions. Considering the importance of his memories, I tried to tell the tree’s movement, the color of air, Nicolas’s surprise and the warmness of his home as vividly as possible. For example, “the goldeny blue air” in the first paragraph is not so easy to describe. The sky becomes blue as it becomes evening, but what is the goldeny air? I think it expresses the bright remains of the sun light. So, the half blue and the half gold air suggests the turning point from day to night. As the adjective “goldeny” is a coinage, I also made a coinage in Japanese connecting two Kanji meaning “gold” and “blue”. Another example, the six paragraph (“He peered […] sang a song”), has a warm atmosphere. In the warmth of candlelight, Nicolas gazes at his mother praying. She embraces him and talks to him in a gentle voice. In this quiet room, his mother is solely his. And this becomes the image of “love” in his mind. So, in translation, I tried to keep this atmosphere by using words that evoke tenderness rather than formal ones.
I also took care to write in simple expressions. First, it was difficult for me to decide where I should put in the demonstrative words like “it” and “that” and where I should omit them. For, in Japanese, when the same subjects appear, they are often omitted, I thought repeating “it” in the first paragraph sounded repetitious. However, consequently, I noticed to emphasize “it” is not so strange because it was not a mere index, but also suggested Nicolas’s perception about the tree. At first, the tree is not defined by words. It is just itself. As for “that”, in “That was its name” or “That was strange”, I omitted them because they only function as indexes.
Second, I sometimes separated one long sentences into two short ones to keep it easy to read in Japanese. For example, in the third paragraph, there is a sentence, starting with “Everything had a name”. I started a new sentence after “for its name”. In the new sentence, there are two verb phrases. Their subjects are both “the thing”, which has already appeared as the subject of “cared nothing for its name”. As I wrote before, in Japanese, the same subjects are often omitted. By using this characteristic, the division of a long sentence is possible without adding the same subject again. And thus, I made each sentence easy to read. However, some exaggerations may occur depending on where to divide the original sentence. So, it was one of the main tasks for me to focus on keeping the tone of original text.