From Greek boardings on the Testament, to English translations of the Arabian Nights, all saw translation as an inherent part of reading and thought. But isn’t translation a greater enterprise of stone shaped into verse, and colour turned into melody? Wasn’t Bernini translating in exquisite marble Daphne’s myth? Aren’t Garcilasos’ verses a melodic translation of Daphne's pain? Isn’t translation, then, the intimate fibre of the most subtle artistic creations? Paraphrasis is the column in which writers are invited to join the modest but arcane craft of the translator by translating and engaging with a piece of poetry, prose, visual arts or music.
Baffled at my little room in Shoreditch, refreshing the Wi-Fi every 20 minutes to cope with the flood of video calls, was definitely not my answer to “Where do you see yourself in five years?” when I first arrived in London in late summer of 2015.
The Italian poet Giuseppe Gioachino Belli (1791-1863) wrote thousands of sonnets about Rome during the Risorgimento, when the Catholic Church lost much of its power and the various states in the Italian peninsula were unified into a single state.
For many years I have turned to this poem just to read that metaphor which I find one among the most beautiful: the brief lips as the fugacious red handkerchief; the impression of space into time, taking advantage of the coincidence in forms and turning the material reality into a spiritual one. Un brevísimo pañuelo rojo... que ondea en un adiós de sangre...
If we should, with Miguel de Unamuno, focus our attention in poets “that more profoundly belong to their country, the most traditional, pure”, then few better than Atahualpa Yupanqui to reveal the spirit of La Pampa, the endless extension of rural area that constitutes most of Argentina's territory.
My first encounter with the work of Katarzyna Szaulińska was through her poem “dorothy vallens”, which jolted me with how dexterously it shifted between David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Sylvia Plath, and Mike Tyson in the moment he bites off Evander Holyfield’s ear.
Alberto Moravia, one of Italy’s most famous literary figures, is renowned for his neorealist and anti-fascist novels such as Gli indifferenti – The time of indifference, La Romana – The Roman woman, and La Ciociara – Two women, but he also wrote more than a hundred short stories featuring the common people of Rome, collected in Storie Romane – Roman Tales.
In selecting and arranging this series of poems by Christian Morgenstern, my intention was to create for the reader an experience of moving through the seasons of the year. The final poem, then, rounds the series off with a description of the movement from day to night, movement which on a smaller scale mirrors the passage of time in the seasonal poems.
I have long been mesmerized by the varied social settings and contexts in which classical Persian poetry is reproduced, reprinted and recited. Ordinary Iranians constantly re-visit, reframe and recite traditional verse in different ways and within different venues, in order to convey new emotions, new passions and new times.
Evaristo Carriego, who was born in 1883 and died in 1912, was an Argentine poet that, in spite of being from Entre Rios, has come to be known as the poet of the – now popular – neighbourhood of Palermo, in Buenos Aires.
The first thing about Bronka Nowicka’s work that resonated with me was her language, which seemed clean and effortless, yet at the same time left me with things to ponder and feel.
Romania’s national poet, Mihai Eminescu (1850 – 1889), is the prototype of the Romantic poet: thematically comparable to Lamartine and Novalis, delicately handsome and tragically doomed, he seemed to fit every box for what he ended up representing, and what he continues to represent to this day.
The art of translation, like any deeply engaged act of reading, is partly a matter of mirroring. We often see, in the texts that mean most to us, not only a record of their authors’ experiences but also a reflection of our own.
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