poetry & translation

discussion on poetry and translation


Posted by mukhid on December 26, 2007

What makes literature interesting is that it does not survive its translation. The characters in a novel are made out of the sentences. That’s what their substance is.
Jonathan Miller 1934-, British Actor, Director

As far as modern writing is concerned, it is rarely rewarding to translate it, although it might be easy. translation is very much like copying paintings.
Boris Pasternak 1890-1960, Russian Poet, Novelist

Translator A great age of literature is perhaps always a great age of translations.
Ezra Pound 1885-1972, American Poet

Critic Laughter translates into any language. Graffiti Translation is the paradigm, the exemplar of all writing. It is translation that demonstrates most vividly the yearning for transformation that underlies every act involving speech, that supremely human gift. Harry Mathews 1930-, American

NovelistWhen one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.
John Donne 1572-1632, British Metaphysical Poet

God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice.
John Donne 1572-1632, British Metaphysical Poet

The original is unfaithful to the translation.
Jorge Luis Borges 1899-1986, Argentinean Author Prayer is translation.

What is really best in any book is translatable — any real insight or broad human sentiment. Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882, American Poet, Essayist

Poetry is what is lost in translation.
Robert Frost 1875-1963, American Poet

Source Unknown Humour is the first gift to perish in a foreign language.
Virginia Woolf 1882-1941, British Novelist, Essayist

It is as impossible to translate poetry as it is to translate music.
Voltaire 1694-1778, French Historian, Writer

Woe to the makers of literal translations, who by rendering every word weaken the meaning! It is indeed by so doing that we can say the letter kills and the spirit gives life.
Voltaire 1694-1778, French Historian, Writer

Any translation which intends to perform a transmitting function cannot transmit anything but information — hence, something inessential. This is the hallmark of bad translations.
Walter Benjamin 1982-1940, German Critic, Philosopher

In theory, only poets should translate poetry; in practice, poets are rarely good translators. They almost invariably use the foreign poem as a point of departure toward their own. A good translator moves in the opposite direction: his intended destination is a poem analogous although not identical to the original poem. He moves away from the poem only to follow it more closely. . . . The reason many poets are unable to translate poetry is not purely psychological, although egoism has a part in it, but functional: poetic translation . . . is a procedure analogous to poetic creation, but it unfolds in the opposite direction.
Octavio Paz (Mexican writer)


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