Playing Scrabble without a Board

On Formal Translation from the Swedish
  • Judith Moffett


Translating formal poetry effectively and accurately with its form more or less intact is so close to impossible, and so stressful and maddening in the attempt, that were the translator compensated neither by an exalted sense of making a gift of great value — a splendid and important poem or body of poetry — to a hitherto deprived readership, nor by lots of cold cash, he or she would have to be a bit demented to persist. There is a fundamental absurdity to the enterprise as well, in that the translator will invariably have to spend many times as long constructing the translation as the poet spent writing the poem in the first place. Yet most, perhaps all, formal poetry is changed so utterly when rendered into free verse that, while the free-verse version may sound all right, I am one of an embattled minority which believes that a formal poem’s rhymes and metrical arrangements are essential to it and should at all costs be preserved in translation.


Good Custom Definite Article Unstressed Syllable Formal Translation Rhyme Word 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Daniel Weissbort 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith Moffett

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations