Wednesday, 26 May 2010

poems about translation 5: Zbigniew Herbert translated by Alissa Valles

I made one attempt many years ago to learn Polish, enchanted by the sound of it and yet thwarted by the many many cases. So I gave up and am thus reduced to reading about witchers, etc. in (albeit very good) translation. Now I have another reason for regretting not reading Polish: Zbigniew Herbert's poem 'O tlumaczeniu wierszy' [On translating poetry']. The English translation by Alissa Valles can be found at the Words Without Borders site. I was charmed by the image of the translator as a feckless bumblebee who gets part of the way into the flower but no further, and emerges on the other side with an air of self-importance and pollen on his nose.

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