John Keats: I Had a Dove

John Keats: I Had a Dove

Posthumous portrait of Keats by William Hilton

As it's the 200th anniversary of the death of the romantic poet John Keats, here's the Quenya translation of one of his poems that he wrote on the death of a favourite bird he'd been keeping.

I took some licence by assuming a shortening of manan to ma'n in fast speech and in poetry, but the lines would've been overlong otherwise.


Sámen kukúa ar i lisse firne;

Ar náven firnes nyérenen:

A, manan nainanes? Talurya naute

Ó saminda líne lanyaina mányanen;

Lissi talinki karni! Manan firnel san –

Ma’n hehtanel ni, aiwe lisse, ma’n?

Erinqua oinel i taure-aldasse,

Manan, netya! óni lá haruvánelye?

Mikunen lye íta, ninqu’ erde lyen ánen;

Ma’n lá oia milya, yall’ i wenye aldassen?


I had a dove (1819)

I had a dove and the sweet dove died;
And I have thought it died of grieving:
O, what could it grieve for? Its feet were tied,
With a silken thread of my own hand's weaving;
Sweet little red feet! why should you die -
Why should you leave me, sweet bird! why?
You liv'd alone in the forest-tree,
Why, pretty thing! would you not live with me?
I kiss'd you oft and gave you white peas;
Why not live sweetly, as in the green trees?