"Frankincense and Myrth," by Dee Shapiro. © 1994.
Poet Joseph Brodsky, the great translator of Shakespeare into Russian, calls translation "the search for an equivalent, not a substitute." Walter Benjamin defines it further, as something "transparent" that does not cover the original, that does not "block its light." Translation is like assuming temporary citizenship in another country, another culture, sometimes another era. Here are visas given, borders coming down. Under Communism and after, for instance, voices rose up against political and creative repression in Russia, Poland, Albania, Lithuania, Romania. And all around us are heard the voices of victims of other forms of repressionof women, of minorities, of gays. Even the words of another century, newly uttered, are being made meaningful to us. Maybe the translator hears these messages first, becomes aware of them the way a song repeats in one's unconscious before it can be given words, the way most of us listen to opera, for the human voice and the music. And every time a translator works through a poem and casts it into his own language and poetry, a new politique, a new vision is born. How could it be otherwise?
"Regrets XXXV," Joachim du Bellay (French), tr. David Slavitt
"Moment of Awakening," Sigidas Geda (Lithuanian), tr. Kerry Shawn Keys
"Threnody 5," Jan Kochanowski (Polish), tr. Leonard Kress
"Recurrence in Another Tongue," Osip Mandelstam (Russian), tr. Eleanor Wilner
"Vence," Grzegorz Musial (Polish), tr. Lia Purpura
"Imaginary Game," Besnik Mustafaj (Albanian/French), tr. Lynn Levin
"As if in the dark," Inge Pedersen (Danish), tr. Marilyn Nelson
"Towards Morning," Inge Pedersen (Danish), tr. Marilyn Nelson
"The Starting Line," Elena Stefoi (Romanian), tr. Adam Sorkin and Liana Vrajitoru
"Under the Cover of Night," Ivón Gordon Vailakis (Spanish), tr. J. C. Todd
"A Splinter," Ivón Gordon Vailakis (Spanish), tr. J. C. Todd
"It's Raining," César Vallejo (Spanish), tr. Rebecca Seiferle
"Unity," César Vallejo (Spanish), tr. Rebecca Seiferle
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