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on 25 July 2015
Profoundly beautifully translations of Rilke's poems - a collection to treasure and read again and again.
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on 2 March 2013
'A Version', it's called, and in prose literature, the distinction between translation and version would be a very fine one, if it exists at all. Having said that, the way we articulate our thoughts, even when we mean to be direct and dry, condemns us to use allusion, metaphor, and oblique references to those things we can't quite define, and to write as we speak, using rhythmic and phonetic schemes. Some of us do it more elegantly than others.
Paterson puts his finger on it in his excellent argument for versioning, pointing out that our words don't just denote, but connote our thoughts, and reminding us that there is significance in both of these functions. This is something that a mere translation might disregard.
Whether we need these two distinct terms for the rendering of foreign thoughts is a fair debate, but I think most readers of translated poetry are sufficiently aware that to approach the original, they'd need to learn a whole language (and way of life). The poet's assertion here is that the spirit is his priority, though the sonnet form might retain the semblance of the source material; moreover, he's happy for us to know.
To review this with reference to Rilke's original would be a stuffy exercise, and I'm in no position to. I prefer to respond as my senses prompt me, and to treat this as a wholly new work. It smells like one to me.
The language isn't the easiest, nor the metre straightforward, but this is by no means inaccessible work. Frequently it combines brevity with profundity.
I bookmarked The Venturers (p54) and Change (p21), but there are numerous highlights. They are their own best recommendation.
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