THOUGHTS ON TRANSLATING POETRY

THOUGHTS ON TRANSLATING POETRY

Playing Bach can be faithful to the note

it can be looser Loussier or variations of the Variations

Early Glenn Gould frantic youthful

later thoughtful measured enriched by humming –

or not – say the purists

Is a poem lost

if you can hear the translator hum

or is the music still the same?

So many airs on a G string none wrong nor right

Miles Davis’ riff on Porgy’s song

another version though, not Willard White’s deep tones

So many poets have sung Achilles’ rage

as implacable ruinous or baneful wrath

transposing Homer through the ages

And Baudelaire whose Spleen results in many forms

Moore’s roi d’un pays pluvieux an ancient king a too-old king

a head of government ruling a rainy hell a flooded empire

Each voice unique springs from the same source

sings the same song in jazz or blues

Mood Indigo has many shades from Ellington to Monk

No mood no blues the same

Whether blue-eyed Frank or Nina Simone

Playing Bach faithful or way off beat

Playful remix of a familiar tune

New harmonies new voices

in a different time


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s