Saturday, 6 August 2016

Poem about translation (if you squint): The capybara as unit of measure

I should say in advance that this post has nothing at all to do with the Rio Olympics, but today a Facebook friend linked to a picture of the baby capybaras recently born at Berlin zoo and I was irresistibly reminded of a well-loved poem, Sandra Beasley's 'Unit of ':
All can be measured by the standard of the capybara.
Everyone is lesser than or greater than the capybara.
Everything is taller or shorter than the capybara.
Everything is mistaken for a Brazilian dance craze
more or less frequently than the capybara. [...]
You can read the whole, wonderful poem, and listen to Beasley reading it, at the Poetry Foundation website. It's not really a poem about translation, but it does mention translation at one point, so I figure it just squeaks in on that basis. Let's call it no. 25a in the series.

Speaking of squeaking:

 For more auditory descriptions of the capybara, in the immortal prose of Gerald Durrell, see here.

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