Rough Trade Books Extra Curricular - A little online amusement for abnormal times Randomise!

Think of those that marched this road before
And those that will march here in years to come
The road in shadow and the road in the sun
The road before us and the road all done
History is watching us and what will we become

This road is all flags and milestones
Immigrant blood and sweat and tears
Built this city, built this country
Made this road last all these years

This road is made of protest
And those not permitted to vote
And those that are still fighting to speak
With a boot stamping on their throat

There is power and strength in optimism
To have faith and to stay true to you
Because if you can look in the mirror
And have belief and promise you
Will share wonder in living things
Beauty, dreams, books and art
Love your neighbour and be kind
And have an open heart

Then you’re already winning at living
You speak up, you show up and stand tall
It’s silence that is complicit
It’s apathy that hurts us all

Pessimism is for lightweights
There is no straight white line
It’s the bumps and curves and obstacles
That make this road yours and mine

Pessimism is for lightweights
This road was never easy and straight
And living is all about living alive and lively
And love will conquer hate


We think translation is an essential literary endeavour over here at Rough Trade Books HQ—a means of access into the language, thinking and stories of other cultures, histories and experiences, we believe the act of translation can be a radical rejection of a homogenous literary culture. So to celebrate International Translation Day—which happens to be on this very day—we’ve printed this broadside of a wonderful Old English translation of Salena Godden’s iconic poem Pessimism is for Lightweights.

This rather brilliant translation was provided by Emily Cotman, an artist who uses translation as a medium to invoke a more human experience of history. Or, as Emily puts it, “maybe I just want to sing karaoke with my ancestors.” Emily holds a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from The Ohio State University, and lives gratefully with her family on Gayogoho:no land.

Emily first encountered Salena’s poem earlier this year, when she saw it being shared on social media. She says of Pessimism is for Lightweights, “This poem is a healing thing, and given the history of Watling Street (Wæcelinga Stræt), I supposed that an Old English translation might allow that healing to touch new times and spaces.”
We wholeheartedly agree.

Any purchases of Salena Godden’s pamphlet from our website from today onwards will include this beautiful translation as an added bonus.

In an act of trying to come together and create some small attempt at unity on this planet we’re inviting people from all over the world to translate Pessimism is for Lightweights into your chosen language. If you fancy giving it a go, please head to our Extra Curricular pages where you can find Salena’s poem as it is displayed at Manchester’s People’s History Museum. We’d especially love it if you could send in a short video of yourself reading your translation. Make sure you tag @RoughTradeBooks and use the hashtag #PessimismIsForLightweights