The Translation of Poetry

Francis R. Jones

in The Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199239306
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

The Translation of Poetry

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  • Linguistics
  • Translation and Interpretation



Poetry translation may be defined as relaying poetry into another language. Poetry's features can be sound-based, syntactic or structural or pragmatic in nature. Apart from transforming text, poetry translation also involves cognition, discourse, and action by and between human and textual actors in a physical and social setting. A poetry translation project usually aims to publicize a poet or poets. Poetry translation is typically overt. Poetry translators are concerned to interpret a source poem's layers of meaning, to relay this interpretation reliably, and/or to ‘create a poem in the target language which is readable and enjoyable as an independent, literary text. Poetry translation involves challenges and these are highlighted in this article. Poetry accounts for a tiny proportion of world translation output. Case studies and examples taken from poetry, however, have dominated theory-building in translation studies at the expense of more frequently translated genres.

Keywords: poetry translation; cognition; discourse; poet; interpretation; translation output; theory building

Article.  5637 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Translation and Interpretation

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