Poetry in Translation

I love poetry in translation
I love its vagueness and imperfection
It doesn’t pretend to be important
But fumbles to recover
Something we can never quite accept
That meaning is approximate and
Only in our heads.

I find poetry in translation
Much more real and honest,
None of the insistencies of rhyme,
Those endless nuances of reference,
Till words become so concrete
They drop like stones.

Too many poets polish and scrub their work
Burnishing the surface so carefully that
They can only see their own faces.
For a translation is just a window, a partial
View, just clear enough to see through
Without too much reflection.

I love poetry in translation.
It reminds us not to fuss too much,
Get hung up on the words themselves.
It tells us – if we want to hear – there is world
Outside behind between beyond language
Where reality breathes. Yes. Listen.

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  1. Indeed, poetry should not be trusted to poets: let them produce their overwrought poems and translators (however inept or mediocre) distillate them for us. Long live prose translations of the Dante’s Commedia, Shakespeare’s sonnets or Goethe`s Faust! Blessed be those who cannot read the original!

  2. Whoa….
    I really enjoyed this. I’ve translated poems before and you have described the beautiful and eye-opening process that is poetry translation.
    Thank you for sharing!

    -Jordan

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