Playing Scrabble without a Board
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.
KeywordsSteam Income Sine Stake Verse
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