Posts

To Mark Anthony in Heaven

Another I couldn't resist


William Carlos Williams

To Mark Anthony in Heaven

This quiet morning light
reflected, how many times
from grass and trees and clouds
enters my north room
touching the walls with
grass and clouds and trees.
Anthony,
trees and grass and clouds.
Why did you follow
that beloved body
with your ships at Actium?
I hope it was because
you knew her inch by inch
from slanting feet upward
to the roots of her hair
and down again and that
you saw her
above the battle's fury--
clouds and trees and grass--

For then you are
listening in heaven.

What Gets Lost

I couldn't resist this one, by the brilliant poet, essayist and translator of Borges, Neruda, José Emilio Pacheco, Herberto Padillo, Eugenio Montejo and others.


Alastair Reid
What Gets Lost

I keep translating traduzco continuamente entre palabras words que no son las mías into other words which are mine de palabras a mis palabras.

Y, finalmente, de quién es el texto? Who has written it? Del escritor o del traductor writer, translator o de los idiomas or language itself? Somos fantasmas, nosotros traductores, que viven entre aquel mundo y el nuestro between that world and our own. Pero poco a poco me ocurre que el problema the problem no es cuestión de lo que se pierde en traducción is not a question  of what gets lost in translation sino but rather lo que se pierde what gets lost entre la ocurrencia -sea de amor o de desesperación between love or desperation- y el hecho de que llega a existir en palabras  and its coming into words. Para nosotros todos, amantes, habladores as lovers or users of…

Fictions of otherness

(An essay on poetry translation, from the Dublin Review of Books, December, 2016

We carry poems around with us in our heads, part of the internal tradition we create for ourselves. Often these are translations, although that fact may not necessarily register. When something causes us to dwell on the poem as translation, the result can be troubling. To give just one example, Czesław Miłosz’s “Encounter” has been part of my own personal anthology for many years. Recently I had cause to dig it out again. Here, first of all, is the poem in the English version I remembered:

    Encounter

    We drove before dawn through frozen fields,
    The red wing was rising, yet still the night.

    And suddenly a hare shot across our path.
    One of us pointed to it with his hand.

    That was long ago and both are dead:
    The hare and the man who stretched his arm.

    O my love, where are they, where do they lead,
    The flash of a hand, the line of movement, the swishing icy ground?

    I as…

The lure of the troubadours

David Cooke has published a selection from Sway in his online poetry magazine The High Window.

The book will be out later this year, I'll post details later.

The High Window is full of all sorts of goodies -- well worth checking out.

Sway

My new book, Sway, Versions of Poems from the Troubadour Tradition, will be published by Gallery Press in October. This one is a riff rather than a version, taking as its starting point a line by the 12th century trobairitz, Beatriz, Countess of Dia.


Riff for Beatriz
Ab joi et ab joven m’apais

I feed on joy and youth    the rest
forget    all texts
abandoned     I feed
with joy     I feed on you or would
were you here    were I there
by the lake    in the wood    where the
nightingales are    I hear them
the buds along the branches roar
the frost withdraw    I feast on the season
that you may come to me
like light to the trees    I set
my pilgrim heart to roam
I am here   your loosened armour  your
Saracen hands   I feed
on spices and desert air
the rest is argument    discourse
the lines unwinding
the lines bound like the twigs of a broom
to sweep you away and pull you back
my dust is yours together we blow through the meadows
I was here but now
a stir of language in the trees     bird…

A Shared Wonder of Light

Image
I'm launching A Shared Wonder Of Light, Poems & Photographs From West Cork & Kerry", poems by John Kinsella, photographs by John D'Alton on Sunday 12 June at 3pm in Arthur Mayne's, Donnybrook, in case anyone is free. It's brilliant collaboration ...

The Thing Itself

The Ocean, the Bird and the Scholar: essays on poets and poetry, by Helen Vendler, Harvard University Press, 444 pp. £25.95, ISBN: 978-0674736566

 Poets and critics sometimes inhabit the same body. Think Eliot, Pound, Randall Jarrell, Donald Davie, Robert Pinsky, Czesław Miłosz, Zbigniew Herbert or, from these shores, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Dennis O’Driscoll, David Wheatley, Peter McDonald, Justin Quinn. But poet-critics are an increasingly rare and imperilled breed, and most critical response and reputation-making or -shredding is left to vocational critics, often based in the universities. In the United States Helen Vendler is a force to be reckoned with. Through her regular appearances in The New York Times Book Review and the New York Review of Books, her editorship of the Harvard Book of Contemporary Poetry (1985) and her many books on the likes of Wallace Stevens, Yeats, Emily Dickinson and Seamus Heaney, she has become, in terms of recognition and influence, the pre-emine…