I was re-reading some of Yves Bonnefoy's poems, for other reasons, and came upon this interesting essay by Hoyt Rogers on Bonnefoy and translation. The problem discussed begins with the translation of 'boat' as one of Bonnefoy's fundamental metaphors. For he uses barque not bateau, and that makes all the difference.

Bonnefoy says: "The more a translation interprets a poem by making it explicit, the more it reflects the translator, with all his or her differences from the author. But to be truly faithful, we have to be free. And do we have any freedom if we are not entitled, every now and then, to leap ahead of ourselves as we read? To translate does not mean to repeat: it means to be won over; and that only happens when we put our own thoughts to the test as we proceed."

I put all the above on my translation blog latitudes but thought it may be of interest here. I would like to know what it is to be free.


richard lopez said…
me too. i know only english, and that not so well sometimes, but i've attempted to translate some transtromer with lotsa help from dictionaries, when spending a few weeks in sweden and the urge was overwhelming.

even so, i think i've been influenced most by poems in translations than by anything else. esp. eastern european poetry. anna, my wife, always gently teases me for my love of herbert, mandelstam, et al. and when i was recovering from a breakdown 10 years ago, i was reading, as best i could, classical chinese poetry for its hard clarity, good when yr mind is going in several directions at once.

on a side note, i've been thinking about internationalism now in writing. how we use the internet to read and write, therefore we are, no matter where you sit as you type, an international poet. at some degree at least. how my reading/writing is directly influenced by poets and poetry from all around the world.

for what it is worth, i've long considered myself a citizen of the world even before i knew how to phrase it.

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