An ABC of Translating Poetry
excerpts of the essay: follow the link to read in full
illustrations from the international exhibition ofcalligraphy
Give the art a name like paraphrase, imitation, or verse transfer, and the translation police will not arrest you.
The best poet translators—the "original" authors of the Bible, Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Saint John of the Cross—wear masks and have not been caught.
I A translation aspires to independence,
yet even when apparently achieved, the dream is false. Original work is never independent, nor even wholly original.
Octavio Paz goes so far as to declare, "Every text is unique and, at the same time, is a translation of another text."
|Chen Forng-shean, A Miniature book-The Taiwan Poetry|
A good translation is a good joke. Reader, you are fooled.
Historically, the transformed words have no beginning, do not seek an original author, an original tongue, or first words. And good or bad, beauty or trash, ancient or modern, a joke lurks under the text. So the translator lacks the miracle of creation that served Yahweh when with the utterance of a syllables, yehi or, he translated chaos into light.
Whether wonderful or monstrous the version is always a version, another working and retelling. Even a recent reading of the source text constitutes one act of translation in an infinite series of prior acts, extending from childhood's acquisition of the first signs and sounds of words to that reading of the source text. Language incessantly transforms itself, slowly like rust, quickly like conquest, and never, along the endless way of self-translation, remains the same.
|Chen Forng-shean, Miniature books|
translations (part one): A ~ F