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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A note on the translations

My aim in these versions of Lorca’s poems, first of all, is to “do no harm.” I have sought to avoid mistranslations that stem from misconstruals of the originals, as well as forms of “translatese” that would not be acceptable in a poem written originally in English. Interesting ideas from translation theory sometimes lead to results that do not satisfy me aesthetically. Secondly, a respect for the integrity Lorca’s own poetics is fundamental: a translation should aim not only to be a good poem in English, but also to preserve the ethos of the original. If the early Lorca, for example, is exceptional for his concrete imagery, his concision, and his careful “engineering” of verse forms and syntactic parallelisms, it will not do to translate him by making him more abstract and verbose while ignoring the rigors of his art.

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