The Poem Behind the Poem: Translating Asian Poetry

The Poem Behind the Poem: Translating Asian Poetry

by Frank Stewart
     
 

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"The translator must keep faith with the deeper need that poetry fulfills in our lives, [to] discover not what the poem says but what it does."—Tony Barnstone, in his essay "Poem Behind the Poem"

The translation of Asian poetry into Western languages has been one of the most important literary events over the past one hundred years. Readers have

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Overview

"The translator must keep faith with the deeper need that poetry fulfills in our lives, [to] discover not what the poem says but what it does."—Tony Barnstone, in his essay "Poem Behind the Poem"

The translation of Asian poetry into Western languages has been one of the most important literary events over the past one hundred years. Readers have fallen in love with Asian poetry and writers have been greatly influenced by it.

What neither reader nor writer ever witness is the intense engagement behind the poem, how the translator must serve as both artist and alchemist, urging a poem to work and sing in a foreign language. Success is rare, and the practice of translation, as W.S. Merwin has written, is "plainly impossible and nevertheless indispensable."

This endlessly fascinating anthology—the first of its kind—gathers essays, poems-in-translation, and worksheets from twenty-one noted translators who discuss their aspirations, methods, and the forces of imagination necessary to bring a poem from one language into another. Languages discussed include Chinese (both ancient and modern), Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Sanskrit.

"A truly apt translation of a poem may require an effort of imagination almost as great as the making of the original. The translator who wishes to enter the creative territory must make an intellectual and imaginative jump into the mind and world of the poet, and no dictionary will make this easier."—Gary Snyder on translating the Chinese poet Han-shan

Contributors include: Gary Snyder, Willis Barnstone, Jane Hirshfield, J.P. Seaton, John Balaban, Michelle Yeh, Arthur Sze, W.S. Merwin, and Sam Hamill.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556592003
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
02/01/2004
Pages:
360
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

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