The Roots of Translatorly Metaphors

Matthew Reynolds

in The Poetry of Translation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199605712
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731617 | DOI:
The Roots of Translatorly Metaphors

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The metaphors adopted by poetic translators often turn out to have a root in the poem that is being translated: Pound thinks of himself as bringing Propertius ‘to life’ because the Propertius poems he translates have to do with life after death; Pope thinks of translation as the preservation of ‘fire’ because there is much fire, both literal and metaphorical, in the Iliad. Dryden thinks of himself as ‘opening’ Virgil through translation because he sees the Aeneid as showing how fate is opened into history. I give examples from contemporary poem‐translations by Ciaran Carson and Michael Hofmann. This interactive relationship between source and translation can sometimes happen with prose and drama (I give examples from Natasha Randall and Tony Harrison) but, it flourishes best in poetry. It creates the ‘poetry of translation’—an art form in which translation continues and reflects upon the imaginative activity of the source.

Keywords: translation; metaphor; poetry; Ciaran Carson; Michael Hofmann; Natasha Randall; Tony Harrison; Douglas Robinson

Chapter.  4457 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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