Tuesday, 20 November 2012

translations (part three)

An ABC of Translating Poetry
continued, part three
features excerpts of the essay only: follow the link to read in full
illustrations are from the international exhibition ofcalligraphy


A translation aspires to the kabbalah, wherein the universe is a system of permanent though fiery words; yet it wakes down on earth in the knowledge of its instability and impermanence.
Nazip Ismaigilov, "Be Kind"

Given the inconstancy of words and texts, can we demand miracles from human translators who work today to grace us with a poem?

In the Zohar (the Book of Radiance), the infinite (the eyn sof) lies not in a stationary mass but in two forms of undulatory movement: darkness and light.  


Foremost among fidelities is fidelity to beauty in the original poem. Should the new poem not have beauty, the translator has traduced our faith in sense, word, and letter.


Mastery lies in the manipulation of the clay. She pours content into a form of her own creation in her own language. 


The translator plays with nothingness, with la nada, and from nothing comes everything. 

Untranslatable lines are natural meadows of translation and yield the best wild herbs. 

What has never been done in the adopted language will expand its thematic and formal boundaries and its literature. 

Traditions of theme and form are altered by the infusion of poems from other languages, especially the impossible ones.

Massimo Polello,

Non ti ricordar de’ peccati della mia giovinezza (Forgotten of the sins of my youth ...) Psalms 25:7


Translation is voyage and the poet takes a translation across the ocean. Any ship of any description may be qualified to reach port, sailing across the sea of fidelity or the sea of license.
The ocean offers all things, including these mixed metaphors about the translation of poems.

 see also:

translations (part one): A ~ F

translations (part two): G ~ J


also see:

Translating poetry, an unsung art 

Asmaa Abdallah  

... The two main questions [Randa] Abou-Bakr tackled during her talk were, “Is translating poetry at all possible?” and, “Why does translating poetry matter?” Although American poet Robert Frost once said, “Poetry is what gets lost in translation,” Abou-Bakr tells us that theoreticians have suggested several strategies to deal with the multi-layered nature of poetry in ways that are both meaningful and beautiful. One way is to prioritize and centralize one of its elements over the others; for example, the sounds, the meaning, or the meter. Others believe in approximating: adopting an approach of dealing with a large variety of elements all at once. Abou-Bakr however, subscribes to another school of translation, namely focusing on the emotional resonance of the poem.

“I like to keep my translations as close as possible to the originals in the sense that I do not try to be a poet on my own, but rather claim to myself that I am the prophet who has received a certain revelation — not a message — and I am now being trusted with the sacred task of transmitting it to others.”   read full article

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