Saturday, June 4, 2011

From the long overdue (re)readings (VIII)

Translation of poetry is that pigheaded effort to convey in words of another language not only the literal meaning of a poem but an alien way of seeing things. Since poetic imagination cannot fully be detached from the place of origin, no two languages share identical associations. Can one truly convey in English the elements that elude the translator’s complete understanding and yet contribute to the character of the work for the native reader? In short, can one translate another person’s view of reality, which, as it happens, is already a kind of translation? If all writing is a conversion of some subjective or objective reality into language, translation is the most philosophical of all activities. To translate is not only to experience what makes each language distinct, but to draw close to the mystery of the relationship between word and thing, letter and spirit, self and world.
- Charles Simic, from ‘The Spirit of Play,’ review of works by Anne Carson, in The Renegade. Writings on poetry and a few other things (Braziller, 2009), 164-76; 167. Originally published in The New York Review of Books.

No comments: