The translator is a WRITER with arguments against
He talks modern but not so fearfully as to rub out the past.
Old writers will not lose the centuries of their age
when heard in modern diction.
Presumably the reader of the early work was reading
in a tongue of her own day,
unless the author was a Spenser on an archaic kick.
If that happens, good luck, and count on nothing.
A translation is an XRAY,
not a Xerox.
A poet translator is a xenophiliac.
A translator spends a life asking Y?
Yet the I
(even puffed up as the solitary creator eye)
knows it's for U.
Good translation of poetry is essential to a hungry reader
in a decent book store and to a global village of letters.
We need it. We still suffer under the edict
of the God of the tower in Babylon whose edict
caused the diaspora of tongues.
Translation is a Chinese ZEN metaphor in which an
unknown zero equals sudden luminous zenith.
Translation is a verbal moving van (metaforá)
crammed with forbidden fruit and cracking with light.
Sappho's breakfast nuts, even her grass bed in the sun,
are in it.
Although translation plays with chaos,
infusing a mass with spirit and colors as bright as the Zohar,
and shapes and understands the primordial world stuff,
it still signs its name with modesty, or with shame
Translation is a zoo and a heavenly Zion.
On a dark night in August, 1587, the Spanish mystical poet
Juan Yepes (Saint John of the Cross) lies in his dungeon
He babbles, afflicted with love, and in his astonished babble
loses sense as he converts oblivion into the theater of vision.
There, in the darkness of his soul he sees the woman
of the Song of Songs and transfers her to a street in the city
where no one seems to be. They walk to the country,
lie together under the wind by the castle wall,
and the wind wounds their napes in ecstasy.
Sun shines in their hearts, more friendly than the dawn.
Juan de la Cruz is the ultimate translator.
He converts babble into silent flight,
biblical verse and his dungeon cot into woman
and a countryside romp,
night into noon, the aridity of his soul into the country bed of love,
all in an efficient transforming dream.
The mystical poet carries that vision with him
when he ties together a rope made from torn sheets,
and slips from his window
down the steep outer wall of the Carmelite monastery
Next morning in a convent of his discalced sisters,
Juan, good at miracles of composition, translates
his dark night of the soul into a canticle of love
that he comes on randomly while catching his Zs.