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Modern Poetry in Translation

Third SeriesNumber Eight

Getting it Across

Edited by David & Helen Constantine

Modern Poetry in Translation Series Three, Number 8

Getting it Across
Edited by David and Helen Constantine


Modern Poetry in Translation Series Three, No. 8 Modern Poetry in Translation 2007 and contributors ISBN 978-0-9545367-8-7 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Short Run Press, Exeter Editors: David and Helen Constantine Reviews Editor: Josephine Balmer Administrators: Deborah de Kock and Angela Holton Submissions should be sent in hard copy, with return postage, to David and Helen Constantine, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Queens College, Oxford, OX1 4AW. Unless agreed in advance, submissions by email will not be accepted. Only very exceptionally will we consider work that has already been published elsewhere. Translators are themselves responsible for obtaining any necessary permissions. Since we do sometimes authorize further publication on one or two very reputable websites of work that has appeared in MPT, the permissions should cover that possibility. Founding Editors: Ted Hughes and Daniel Weissbort Subscription Rates: (including postage) Single Issue One year subscription (2 issues, surface mail) Two year subscription (4 issues, surface mail) UK 11 22 40 Overseas 13 / US$ 24 26 / US$ 52 48 / US$ 96

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Editorial The Next Issue of MPT A Notice and Two Corrections Bernardo Atxaga, two poems, translated by Margaret Jull Costa Gabriela Mistral, The Foreigner, translated by Arthur McHugh Niyati Keni, Poetry in Four Dimensions Helen and David Constantine, A Language without Words Alyss Dye, Word Blindness Moniza Alvi, Writing at the Centre Saradha Soobrayen, One Foot in England and one Foot in Mauritius Oliver Reynolds, Slip Pascale Petit, I was born in the Larzac Annemarie Austin, Dysphasias Gregory Warren Wilson, three poems Pedro Serrano, four poems from Still Life, translated by Anna Crowe Stephanie Norgate, two haiku versions of Lucretius Robin Fulton, four poems Martha Kapos, two poems Carole Satyamurti, three poems Harry Martinson, five poems, translated by Robin Fulton

68 77 81 90 93

Jenny Joseph, an essay and five poems, after drawings by Jaume Prohens Martti Hynynen, five poems, translated by Mike Horwood Lucy Hamilton, extracts from a sonnet version of Lalla Maghnia Tsvetanka Elenkova, six poems, translated by Jonathan Dunne Turul Tanyol, four poems, translated by Ruth Christie

101 Jane Draycott, a translation of the first two sections of Pearl 107 Naomi Jaffa, The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 109 Taha Muhammad Ali, three poems, translated by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi and Gabriel Levin 114 Michael Hamburger, four poems 119 Robert Walser, twelve poems, translated by Michael Hamburger 127 Two Memorial Notes on Michael Hamburger by Anthony Rudolf by Iain Galbraith Reviews 134 Charlie Louth on Don Paterson, Martyn Crucefix and Rilke 143 Belinda Cooke on The Translator as Writer (edited Susan Bassnett and Peter Bush) 147 Jo Balmer, Shorter Reviews 152 Notes on Contributors 158 Back Issues 170 Subscriptions


Michael Hamburgers association with MPT goes back more than forty years, almost to our very beginning. He is named among the advisory editors in the second issue, Summer 1966; and to the third, Spring 1967, he contributed translations of Ingeborg Bachmanns Leaving England and Helmut Heissenbttels the future of socialism. In May of this year he sent us four of his own poems and ten days later the translations of Robert Walser, which we publish here. My letter thanking him for Walser arrived at Marsh Acres the morning he died. We were away in France when he sent it; had we been home, I should have written sooner, emulating him, the promptest of correspondents. How can we thank the dead? When we asked Michael for work or gratefully accepted what he offered, we never fitted him into any of our particular themes; but, as it happens, he is peculiarly in place in this issue called Getting it Across. Poet, translator, literary critic, tirelessly going to and fro between the languages, could anyone have done more? I wrote about him almost twenty years ago: an introduction to a Bibliography of the Publications of Michael Hamburger. I have a horror of bibilographies, but his was curiously moving. There you saw it: proof of the love and labour, the going between, the getting it across. I called my


essay Man of Letters. For me he embodied that title, it seemed a high office, a profession you would be honoured to serve in. So Hlderlin styled himself in Lyons in January 1802 in revolutionary France when the police asked him what he did: Homme de lettres, and so they entered him in their records. Michael died on the same day as Hlderlin, 7 June, having spent much of his life preoccupied with him. At the age of 16, after only seven years in England, only seven years speaking English, he was looking for a publisher for his Hlderlin translations.They came out three years later, in 1943; by which time Michael, the German Jew, was in British army uniform. The Poetry Society invited him to come and talk on Hlderlin, and read from his translations. He declined. His Company Commander ordered him to accept, for the honour of the regiment. But his nerve failed him, he hid in the audience and got two friends to read and talk for him. That invitation and the occasion, like the translation and the publication themselves, were an absurd and beautiful act, against hatred and evil. Michael commented: If I had asked myself at the time why that war was worth fighting, I should have said, because such absurdities are possible in Britain, and there was nothing I wouldnt do to keep them possible. Poems are bread on the waters, messages in bottles, they may land anywhere. I found a copy of Poems of Hlderlin in Llangollen, only last year, published by Nicholson & Watson: nearly 100 pages of introduction, then 140 of poems, the German facing Michaels English, page by page. Quite something, in the middle of a war against the native land of poet and translator! German soldiers were sent to the front with a special edition of Hlderlin, the so-called Feldauswahl, in their packs. Like Michaels volume, it came out in 1943. A friend found me a copy in Oxford in 1968. The Nazis hijacked Hlderlin for a while.You might say that Michael helped him shake them off. They rot in ignominy and his verse sails on.


I first met and corresponded with Michael because of Hlderlin. I asked him would he read my versions, and he did. I remember his kindness. He and I translated very differently, as we both acknowledged. It moves me to think of that now: very differently, and the beloved text in common between us. Michael was famously lugubrious. Everyone who knew him has a story. Ours is this. Visiting us once, he cast his eye over our small sons cactus collection. Ah yes, he said, in tones of glum satisfaction, like a preacher lighting on yet another proof of original sin, I see theyve got the mealy bug. Most things have, either the mealy bug or some equivalent, and Michael always spotted it. I liked him for that, for the exact tone of voice in which he said, I see theyve got the mealy bug. He reminded me of my mother, my grandmother, two or three of my aunts, with their heroically doleful Mona Lott catchphrase, Its being so cheerful as keeps me going. Michael kept going, against melancholy, against the usual ills. And against fashion, trend, the many spreading duplicities. It was easy to think he would go on for ever and would always be rooting out something else for us from the Aladdins Cave at Marsh Acres. The German word bersetzen has a more literal or a more figurative sense according to whether that prefix ber is separable or inseparable. Separable, the word means to carry over or across, from one side to the other, it might be an object or a person. Inseparable, it means to translate. Celan, whom Michael translated and who was himself (like Hlderlin) a great translator, and a poet who strove desperately to get himself across, plays on that dual sense in more than one poem. He has the image of a ferry, that bears things often terrible things across . Saint Jerome is the usual patron of translators, but Christopher might be too, or Julian the Hospitaller, the one carrying you over on his shoulders, the other ferrying you across in his boat. And since translators and good literary critics enable the poets into further and further life, we might


nominate Charon also, a sort of Counter-Charon, shipping the vital soul of the achievements of the dead back across the river, for us, the living, to embody and continue the best we can. David Constantine August 2007

The Next Issue of MPT

The spring issue of Modern Poetry in Translation (Third Series, Number 9) will be called Palestine. The issue will be dedicated to Palestine, to the place itself, its changing geographical shape; and to Palestine as a location in the mind, the idea of the place, for an Arab, an Israeli, a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, an unbeliever. Palestine: place, aspiration, myth and reality, through many centuries. We want poetry, original and translated, essays, anecdotes, photographs, all of the highest quality, treating, in whatever ways, the topic of Palestine in its terrible complexity. This issue of MPT will present a variety of perspectives, and will seek through poetry and translation to promote an understanding of different points of view. Individual contributors will see things from their own perspective. All together, they may perhaps illuminate one another and be an image of a necessary co-existence. Submissions should be sent by 1 February 2008, please, in hard copy, with return postage, to The Editors, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Queens College, Oxford, OX1 4AW. Unless agreed in advance, submissions by email will not be accepted. Only very exceptionally will we consider work that has already been published elsewhere. Translators are themselves responsible for obtaining any necessary permissions. Since we do sometimes authorize further publication on one or two very reputable websites of work that has appeared in MPT, the permissions should cover that possibility.

A Notice and Two Corrections

Helen Beer, whose translations of Itsik Manger appeared in MPT 3/4, has made a CD of seven of his ballads, set to music and performed by herself and Aviv and Arik Livnat. It is available for 11 (including postage) from John Lucas kindly points out to us that on p. 14 of MPT 3/7 (Love and War) the date 1979 for Ritsoss exile on Samos is incorrect. It should be 1969. He also suggests we should remember that the Papadopoulos dictatorship was a junta of colonels, those goons and thugs, as the Australian poet Martin Johnston called them. Anthony Rudolf asks us to mention one erratum in Yesterdays Wilderness Kingdom (sent out to subscribers with this issue of MPT). It is: First word of the poem on page 74, for Vous, please read Vois.

Bernardo Atxaga Two poems Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Bernardo Atxaga is the foremost contemporary Basque poet and novelist. He studied economics, then did various jobs to support his writing: teacher of Basque, bookseller, etc. He became a full-time writer in 1980. He has written novels, childrens literature, poetry, and song lyrics, and his work has been translated into many languages. He has always written in Basque, but also writes in Spanish, usually translating his own work. Although the political situation in the Basque country inevitably impinges on his work, in particular in his novels, The Lone Man and The Lone Woman, Atxaga insists on the universality of literature. Bernardo Atxaga wrote the first of these two poems as a prologue to the British edition of Obabakoak, the first of his novels to be published in English translation. The book is a collection of loosely connected stories, some of which are based in Obaba, the imaginary Basque village to which Atxaga returns in his latest novel, The Accordionists Son, to be published later this year by Harvill Secker.

Atxaga / Jull Costa

The author speaks of his language, euskera

I write in a strange language. Its verbs, the structure of its relative clauses, the words it uses to designate ancient things rivers, plants, birds have no sisters anywhere on Earth. A house is etxe, a bee erle, death heriotz. The sun of the long winters we call eguzki or eki; the sun of the sweet, rainy springs is also as youd expect called eguzki or eki ( its a strange language, but not that strange ) Born, they say, in the megalithic age, it survived, this stubborn language, by withdrawing, by hiding away like a hedgehog in a place, which, thanks to the traces it left behind there, the world named the Basque Country or Euskal Herria. Yet its isolation could never have been absolute cat is katu, pipe is pipa, logic is lojika rather, as the prince of detectives would have said, the hedgehog, my dear Watson, crept out of its hiding place ( to visit, above all, Rome and all its progeny ) The language of a tiny nation so small you cannot even find it on the map it never strolled in the gardens of the Court or past the marble statues of government buildings; in four centuries it produced only a hundred books the first in 1545; the most important in 1643; the Calvinist New Testament in 1571; the complete Catholic Bible around 1860. Its sleep was long, its library brief (but in the twentieth century, the hedgehog awoke )

Atxaga / Jull Costa

Obabakoak, this book published now in this city, the city of Dickens, of Wilkie Collins and of so many others, is one of the latest books to join the Basque library. It was written in several houses and in several countries, and its subject is simply life in general. And Obaba is just Obaba: a place, a setting; ko means of; a is a determiner; k the plural. The literal translation: The People or Things of Obaba; a less literal translation: Stories from Obaba (and with that I conclude this prologue )

The Hedgehog
The hedgehog wakes up at last in his nest of dry leaves, and all the words in his language rush into his mind: they come to more or less twenty-seven, including verbs. Then he thinks: The winter has ended, I am a hedgehog, Two eagles are flying overhead; Frog, Snail, Spider, Worm, Insect, Where on the mountain are you hiding? Over there is the river, This is my territory, I am hungry. And then he thinks again: This is my territory, I am hungry, Frog, Snail, Spider, Worm, Insect, Where on the mountain are you hiding? He stays quite still, however, just like another dry leaf, for it is midday and an ancient law forbids contact with eagles, sun and blue skies.


Atxaga / Jull Costa

Eventually night falls, the eagles disappear and the hedgehog Frog, Snail, Spider, Worm, Insect leaves the river and walks up the side of the mountain, as confident in his spines as any warrior with his shield in Sparta or in Corinth; and suddenly he crosses the border, the line that separates the earth and the grass from the new road; with one step he enters your time and mine, and, since his dictionary of the universe has not been corrected or updated in the last seven thousand years, he does not recognise the lights of our car, and does not even realise that he is going to die.

Esnatu da trikua habi hosto lehorrez egindakoan, eta dakizkien hitz guztiak ekartzen ditu gogora; gutxi gora behera, aditzak barne, hogeitazazpi hitz. Eta gero pentsatzen du: Amaitu da negua, Ni trikua naiz, Bi sapelaits gora dabiltza hegaletan; Marraskilo, Zizare, Zomorro, Armiarma, Igel, Zein putzu edo zulotan izkutatzen zarete? Hor dago erreka, Hau da nire erresuma, Goseak nago. Eta berriro dio: Hau da nire erresuma, Goseak nago, Marraskilo, Zizare, Zomorro, Armiarma, Igel, Zein putzu edo zulotan izkutatzen zarete?

Atxaga / Jull Costa


Ordea bertan gelditzen da bera ere hosto lehor balitz, artean ez baita eguerdia baino, lege zahar batek galerazi egiten baitizkio eguzkia, zerua eta sapelaitsak. Baina gaua dator, joan dira sapelaitsak, eta trikuak, Marraskilo, Zizare, Zomorro, Armiarma, Igel, Erreka utzi eta mendiaren pendizari ekiten dio, seguru bere arantzetaz nola egon baitzitekeen Gerlari bat bere eskutuaz, Espartan edo Corinton; Eta bapatean, zeharkatu egiten du belardiaren eta kamio berriaren arteko muga, Zure eta nire denboran sartzen da pauso bakar batez; Eta nola bere hiztegi unibertsala ez den azkeneko zazpi mila urteotan berritu, ez ditu ezagutzen gure automobilaren argiak, ez da ohartzen bere heriotzaren hurbiltasunaz ere.

Gabriela Mistral The Foreigner Translated by Arthur McHugh

Gabriela Mistral was the pseudonym of Lucia Godoy y Alcayaga, a Chilean writer. She was born in 1889 in a village in the High Andes. She worked as a schoolteacher until her poetry made her famous, and she was then able to influence education policies both in Chile and Mexico. She taught Spanish Literature at several American universities, and in 1945 was awarded a Nobel Prize. She died in 1957.

Mistral / McHugh


The Foreigner
She talks with an accent of her savage seas that have who-knows-what kind of seaweed and sand; she says a prayer to God without form or weight looking old, old, as if she was going to die. That garden of ours, which she made odd to us, has produced cactus and grasses that scratch you. Her breathing is the breath of the wilderness, she has loved with a passion that makes her blanch, which she never mentions and which would be like the map of another star if she told us. She will live among us for eighty years, but she will always be as if she had just arrived, speaking a gasping, whining sort of language that only little animals understand. One night when she is suffering more, she will die among us, with only her destiny for a pillow: her death will be hushed, foreign.

Niyati Keni Poetry in Four Dimensions

In the UK, the first records of deaf people using manual signs to communicate date back to the sixteenth century. However, as signers were often geographically scattered, it wasnt until the nineteenth century, when residential missions for the deaf brought them together in significant numbers, that a national Sign Language began to emerge. In 1880, an international conference of teachers of deaf children met in Milan and voted to ban the teaching of Sign throughout most of Europe as they believed it to be detrimental to the acquisition of spoken and written language in deaf children. The oral method of teaching all children, deaf and hearing, remained the standard for almost a century until the late 1970s when it was finally acknowledged that this method was failing large numbers of deaf children who were leaving school with low levels of literacy. In the latter half of the twentieth century extensive linguistic analysis was conducted on Sign Language (largely with American Sign Language), heralding a change in perception of Sign from a simple gestural code to a rich and expressive language. This, coupled with the general movement for



disability rights, has led to a shift in consciousness within both deaf and hearing society which has had two important results. Firstly, in the UK, British Sign Language (BSL) was finally recognised as an official national language in March 2003. Secondly, there has been an explosive evolution in Sign arts since the 1960s notably in areas that have traditionally been considered text based, such as theatre and poetry. In order to understand the impact of Sign on such media, it is necessary to examine the characteristics of the language more closely. Sign languages are unique, in that they are visuo-spatial rather than verbal/auditory. In the UK, Sign is often thought of as simple, pictorial language that is a transliteration of spoken English. In fact Sign is an evolved language not a devised one, with its own very different syntax and grammar. It shows regional variation in the same way that spoken languages do and is rich in visual metaphor, (e.g. ravenously hungry is signed as little fish swimming in the belly). BSL has a much smaller lexicon than spoken English but achieves greater expressivity by modifying individual signs. Though the basis of a given sign is the handshape, the meaning can be altered by the speed, style, location, direction and repetition of the movement as well as by non-manual aspects such as eye gaze, facial expression, mouth shape etc. This mimetic quality of Sign is easily demonstrated. For example, the same verb can be performed lazily, angrily, jauntily, so that a person can amble, stalk or strut where the basic sign is walk. Nouns can be similarly modified tree is formed by one forearm standing upright, resting on top of and perpendicular to the other forearm, where the fingers are the tree branches. When the upright forearm sways or the fingers wriggle, the tree is depicted in stormy weather. This sort of mutation happens spontaneously between signers and allows for great degrees of subtlety and economy so that a single sign may need many words to cover its entire



meaning. A sign can combine both the manner in which an event occurred and the signers attitude to it simultaneously by modifying any aspect of the basic sign e.g. the nuances of I should ask, I must ask or I will ask from the basic sign I ask. Sign can thus achieve effects in tone, character and mood which are similar to, if not more sophisticated than, effects in spoken language. The simultaneity of Sign is another unique characteristic multiple events or characters can be described at once. In one of her poems, Dorothy Miles (a pioneering American Sign poet and one of the founder members of the New York Deaf Theatre Company in the 1960s), describes her cat, a bird and herself sleeping in her garden simultaneously using both hands and her face/head. This can also be used for abstract ideas, such as being torn between two cultures (e.g. Deaf and Asian), where each hand signs a separate culture. Simultaneity can also be used for emphasis, to make an aside, to create compound signs (space shuttle), to sign a phrase (born deaf), to establish a time frame etc. Sign evolves like any spoken language new signs are created by combining existing signs or parts of signs in new ways, by devising new ones and by borrowing from other languages. This kind of innovation occurs extensively in art Sign the modified Sign used in Sign poetry. An example of such a neologism used in a Sign poem composed by Dorothy Miles was a two handed sign where one hand made the sign for tree and the other mirrored the same sign upside down, thus creating a single sign for a tree and its reflection in water. Signs syntax and grammar are quite unlike those of spoken English. For example, in spoken English a sentence might read I climbed the tree. In Sign this is, by necessity, Tree me climb. It is necessary to establish the tree before anyone can climb it. Thus Sign must set a scene first before any action can happen, a quality which imparts some affinity for performance. The visualness of the language may be seen in the special kind of pronouns or proforms that Sign employs. Many noun



signs are followed by one-handed proforms which convey additional information about the noun, usually to do with shape, size or orientation of the object being described. For example, a single finger is used to depict long, thin objects and may follow the signs for pencil, person or train. A flat hand (a two-dimensional shape) may follow the signs for bed, plate or picture. A curved, claw hand, palm down (a three-dimensional shape) may follow the signs for house, rock or cake. These proforms demonstrate a way of perceiving form which is central to the language: the signer and the audience do not just see a pencil but experience the qualities of a pencil (long and thin). It follows that signs may share particular handshapes if the objects they describe share similar properties usually properties of shape and size. But signs also have location, orientation and movement incorporated in them. This is one of the fundamental qualities of Sign as a language it uses space to convey information and the placement and movement of signs in space indicate their relationship to each other, a property that the neurologist Oliver Sacks, in his book, Seeing Voices, terms architectural power. To quote Sacks, we see then, in Sign, at every level lexical, grammatical, syntactic a linguistic use of space: a use that is amazingly complex, for much of what occurs linearly, sequentially, temporally in speech, becomes simultaneous, concurrent, multileveled in Sign. Sacks, in his turn, quotes William Stokoe, author of the seminal Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles: Speech has only one dimension its extension in time; writing has two dimensions; models have three; but only signed languages have at their disposal four dimensions the three spatial dimensions accessible to a signers body as well as the dimension of time. The result of this, says Sacks, is that signed language is not merely proselike and narrative in structure, but essentially cinematic too . . . In a signed



language . . . narrative is no longer linear and prosaic. Instead, the essence of sign language is to cut from a normal view to a close-up to a distant shot to a close-up again, even including flashback and flash-forward scenes, exactly as a movie editor works . . . Not only is signing arranged more like edited film than like written narration, but also each signer is placed very much as a camera: the field of vision and angle of view are directed but variable. This quality is particularly apt given that Sign literature is necessarily for performance. Undoubtedly then, where such a unique language is the vehicle for creative construction rather than just a cipher for communicating ideas, there might blossom a very different creative process and, therefore, product. Neurophysiological studies suggest that, in the early years, the acquisition of Sign as a primary language seems to wire the developing brain in a way different to that found in hearing subjects. Furthermore, that in the brains of native signers, there is a completely separate representation of linguistic space from that of ordinary topographical space; i.e., that native signers have developed a new way of representing space, a new type of space that has no equivalent in the hearing and these two spaces are processed in different areas of the brain. Sacks suggests that the strong visuality of deaf people may dispose them to certain visual types of memory and thought that given complex problems with many stages, the deaf tend to arrange these and their hypotheses in logical space, whereas the hearing arrange them in a temporal (or auditory) order. Experiments conducted in the 1940s and1960s comparing written composition in hearing and deaf students found that the compositions of deaf students were very different in structure with much use of redundant or recurring phrases, less complex sentences and deviations in word order, disparities which reflect the structural differences between Sign and spoken English. But what about non-verbal rather than verbal composition?



What about original work composed in Sign, work never intended for translation, such as original Sign poetry? Hearing poetry, even performance poetry, with very few exceptions such as concrete poetry, is not visual. Poetic imagery in a speech poem may be projected on the inner eye, but the poem is entirely dependent on audition. Oliver Sacks makes the point that written word or speech poetry evokes by association, not depiction (except, arguably, by devices such as onomatopoeia), whereas Sign poetry evokes by portrayal. Words are a symbolic approximation of an event, thought or intention. Sign may arguably also be an approximation but whereas words can be distancing/distant/disembodied, Sign cannot be separated from the signer. A poet is fused with the poem he or she recites and the event, thought or intention is demonstrated by the signer, not described. Therefore, as Sacks concludes, though Sign can ascend to the abstract it must, by necessity, because it is inseparable from the signer, retain a vividness, a concreteness that speech lacks. However, there is much about the visual aesthetic of Sign poetry that goes beyond simple portrayal. A Sign poem literally translated to spoken English makes little poetic sense to the ear. The converse is also true a hearing poem translated into everyday Sign also appears to have little visual aesthetic value. When reworked into art Sign, the modified Sign of performance, the visual beauty of the language becomes apparent. Art Sign differs from conversational Sign in a number of ways it has much more repetition of both manual (handshape, hand location, movement and direction) and non-manual features (eye gaze, mouth shape, head movement). These can be considered a kind of alliteration or rhyme. The signs are also often extended out of the normal signing space and distorted spatially, temporally and rhythmically for effect. Thus, the signs themselves and the manner in which they are performed are modified to give the poem structure. Art Sign also uses both hands (unlike conversational Sign where one hand tends to be dominant) to give balance and simultaneity.



Any poem is not just about the meaning of the words, but also about some musical quality of the language. In a hearing poem this musical quality is perceived by the ear, in a Sign poem it is perceived by the eye. Sign has tempo, shape, space and movement (these qualities can be present in spoken language too but are not visible). Form in hearing poems is dictated by sound it is heard, for example, in stress patterns, in the rhythm of the words, in rhyme. In Sign, this form is shown in the assonance and dissonance of hand shapes, the flow of movement between the two hands, the relation between the hands etc. In The Signs of Language by Klima and Bellugi, the authors state that what is special about verse is a heightened awareness of linguistic phenomena as linguistic phenomena. This holds true for hearing and Sign poems. In art Sign, the signs are described as more fastidious where the visual motivation of each sign is emphasised to create a stronger imagery but also to draw attention to the form of the sign itself. In addition to all this, the poet will select signs and perform them in such a way as to form a visual three-dimensional design in space. This is called superstructure and might most usefully be compared to melody in a song as something distinct from the words but adding an extra dimension. There is, therefore, a choreography to Sign poetry where the natural physicality of the language is harnessed and augmented to produce form in movement. This takes the language away from being merely a method of communication and towards performance art. In summary, there is clearly a very different aesthetic in Sign poetry than in hearing poetry which reflects the unique way in which those whose primary language is visuo-spatial perceive and process the world. The full appreciation of a visual music is unlikely to be possible for a hearing audience or for non-native signers. Though art Sign differs somewhat from everyday Sign, it is likely that it remains comprehensible to a deaf or native



signing audience, as the spontaneous mutability that is evident in conversational Sign is one of the languages central characteristics. Signers will tend to improvise and embellish signs, to play with the language, when conversing. (Klima and Bellugi write in communicating amongst themselves, or in narrative, deaf signers often extend, enhance, or exaggerate mimetic properties . . . Thus ASL remains a two-faceted language formally structured and yet in significant respects mimetically free.) More than just the linguistic uniqueness of Sign, it is this mutability, this freedom that is at the heart of the language, that is driving the redefinition of a medium that has hitherto been considered exclusively text based.

A Journey Into The Deaf World, Harlan Lane, Robert Hoffmeister and Ben Bahan, 1996. The Signs of Language, Klima and Bellugi, 1979. The Linguistics of BSL: An Introduction, Sutton-Spence and Woll, 1999. Educating Deaf Students from Research to Practice, Marschark, Lang and Albertini. 2002, Oxford University Press. Literacy and Deafness: The Development of Reading, Writing and Literate Thought, Peter V. Paul, 1998. Seeing Voices, Oliver Sacks, Picador, 1990.

David and Helen Constantine A Language without Words

Its a particularly hard idea to get your head around, how little the written word means to a person born deaf. If the eyes can read, why cannot any readers heart and mind be moved and engaged? Why should it matter so much that you cannot hear, and have never heard, the words on the page? Though we learned a good deal on our visit to Derby, in discussion with Niki Johnson, the Deaf-Arts Officer, her interpreter Debbie Parkes and two of their colleagues, still we left feeling that we were only on the threshold of a terra incognita whose language is one without words. Niki Johnson was born deaf, in a hearing family, and was taught to lip-read and speak. Then, leaving school, she came to the college in Derby and began to sign. We are aware that views differ, quite radically and vehemently, as to the relative benefits of lip-reading and signing, but that is not an argument we are qualified to pursue. Instead we shall concentrate on expressiveness, on how the deaf who are born deaf get themselves across. Niki felt constrained by her schooling; her gesture for that was sitting on her hands. She felt liberated by signing; her gesture for that was to release her hands and begin to use them. Brecht would have called that the Gestus of her situation before and after, its being made physically, concretely



intelligible. By constraining then releasing her hands, she made herself clear. When you think of signing, you think of the hands. But watch Niki and Debbie in conversation and you see that the hands, though vital, are only a part of it. The face is wonderfully expressive; all the body is. This was very well put in a sentence signed by Niki and translated by Debbie: Everything is there in the person. The phrase body language, hackneyed almost to death, came alive before our eyes. And we realized how dull to a deaf and signing person the body language of the hearing and speaking must often be, how little we use of the bodys expressive power. In Derby they distinguish firmly between the deaf (those born deaf) and the deafened (those made deaf by some occurrence or illness). The deafened, if they have had some years in which to read, will have accumulated a fund of associations embedded in the sound of words being said; and it is this fund that the truly deaf have no access to. It seems that was our impression very difficult indeed, and perhaps impossible, for a deaf person to begin, as an adult, to get access to the traditions of literature in the world. In that case at least, it seems you cannot recover what you have never had. And that is surely a loss and an impoverishment. It is hard for a hearing person who writes and reads poetry to imagine doing either without a sense of tradition; and that tradition, for centuries now, has been written not oral. Signing, since 2003, has been recognized as an official national language, but its poetic tradition, only beginning to be made, is neither the spoken nor the written word, but peformance, the extending and refining of expressiveness through the face, the hands, the whole body. Everything is there in the person. It has to be watched. The poem is composed in sign, without (if we understood correctly) there being any preliminary verbal phase of which the signing would, so to speak, be a translation. Indeed, translation of a written poem into sign is, on the evidence of our rough-and-ready experiments in Derby, a laborious and



difficult business, being a passage not really from one language into another (though Niki constantly spoke of sign as her language and English as ours), but from one medium, or even from one way of being in the world, into another. A thing we take for granted that many words in a poem will bear both a literal and a figurative freight made a halt in translation again and again, while the double senses were disentangled. The epithet bible-black, for example; the well-known first line Shall I compare thee to a summers day?; and even the comical idioms of everyday speech such as Pigs might fly or Raining cats and dogs, all had to be processed into intelligible sense, before they could be translated, or better, re-invented, re-created, in sign. We were beginning to understand, by the time our discussions ended, that sign has among its resources many that language poets would acknowledge also as theirs: a grammar and syntax; degrees of clarity, rhythm and pace all these not in words and their groupings and sounds, but in a facial vocabulary, a fluency and quickness of the hands, the disposition and movement of the body. A nuance, ambiguity or irony might be conveyed by the position of a little finger or the raising of one eyebrow, or the pointing of the chin. In poetry workshops participants would be tutored in the learnable things but also encouraged in inventiveness in the varying of signs, for example, and the devising of new ones. A poem would go through drafts on video, not on paper. Niki Johnson thinks signing is natural. To deaf babies born of deaf parents it is the mother tongue. They babble in sign, their mothers sign them stories. Naturally then, sign will have its own poetry, strange to the hearing observer, but persuasive too: a language without words, the whole bodys language, movingly expressive. David and Helen Constantine With grateful thanks to Niki Johnson, Debbie Parkes, Pauline Vernon and Catherine Rogers.

Alyss Dye

Word Blindness
My daughter reads: Billy Blue Hat, was, no, saw, the old, the l i t t l e, the l, the cat in the road. No. the little yellow cat. Yes. the cat nt we, was. No, spell it out. W e n t. Was? The. No. to Rogers home. No. house. She flings the book aside and says I hate books!



I am equally full of rage that she cannot love the things I love, the things I might rescue first from a fire. I grieve, unreasonably, that she is blind to the beauty of words. But, never mind. We put down Billy Blue Hat and take up Odysseus. The bridge may be broken but it will be mended and, in the meantime, Ill carry her on my back, through the torrent, to the world of the imagination.

Moniza Alvi

Writing at the Centre Id Thought the Words Might Come Streaming Out
but no, just a few, precious few like drops from an almost dry sponge, or sparks from a half-extinguished fire. Words on that perilous journey from heart and brain to pen. Or impacted in the body. Words assembling themselves in a small way. The pain of Broadmoor, a third of my life. Or Dad, why did you kill yourself?



Words seeping out blood through a bandage, resin trickling from wood.

On Occasions
It wasnt that the room was filled with light (the session over and the group dispersed), but that the air in that harsh place was stippled, as in a Seurat painting, the dance of the molecules visible around the awkward chair and table legs. And we separated, slippery as mercury. There was movement, movement in us.

Saradha Soobrayen One foot in England and one foot in Mauritius

Mauritian Creole developed out of a linguistic dilemma, an unstable pidgin evolved in the 1880s out of a necessity to create a working language between the Hindu and Muslim indentured labourers; the Malabars and Lascars and the Marrons the slave groups from East and West Africa and Madagascar. Mauritian Creole became the meeting point between these arriving communities, whose languages collided and whose sense of belonging had been shattered by the French, English and Dutch conquerors. This breaking of the mother tongue is explored in My Conqueror a monologue written in the voice of Lille Maurice: She brings a pantomime cast of malabars and lascars to my shores. Their passage back to India guaranteed, if only they can read the scripts. The cane breaks backs. Tamil, Urdu, Hindi, cling



to their skins like beads of sweat. Hundreds of tongues parched like the mouths of sweethearts in an arranged ceremony. She is kind and ruthless and insists on the Queens English. At night Creole verve slips in and makes mischief. With French as its base language, Mauritian Creole has also been infused with contributions from English, Malagasy, Chinese and Indian languages. In 1880 Charles Baissac described the porous defiant nature of Mauritian Creole in his study Patois crole: Creole allows anything to be said, recognises everything. But after all its capitulations on the public stage, it comes back home, shuts its door, resumes its personality, its individual originality, so qualit mme, as it says. It has left its pidgin status to become the stable mother tongue of subsequent generations. Today it is known as Kreol or Moriysen and is spoken widely in Mauritius. While French is the language of popular culture and English the language of Government, Creole remains in the homes and streets and it is at the heart of peoples lives with its riddling nature and directness. Although a dictionary has been developed, it has resisted attempts to legitimise itself fully into public life and schools. As a child growing up with English as a first language I developed an instinct for Creole, out of a curiosity to de-code the grown-up speak around me. Creole often felt secretive, slippery and confusing At times I never knew which words were English and which were Creole, the words vomit and vomee sounded very close to my struggling ear. Within my poetry is the strong residue of a Creole rhythm and an oral quality not strictly English that lies underneath the English text. It prompted the further excavation of two poems in particular Mo Ti Bb (My little one) and Couma ki piti zenfan guetter (As the child looks on). Not only were these



poems striving to sound like Mauritian Creole but within the lines of English was a kind of tension, a stand-off between the English text and the structures of French. In keeping with its adaptable nature, the Creole spoken at home had re-aligned itself with the acquired colloquial English and textbook French and had become broken, vulnerable and open to change. The Creole versions of the poems were written with the kind assistance of my parents. Neither of them had written much Creole before so the poems were grafted from the English and were reliant on the layering of our shared oral understanding of Creole imagery and rhythm. The poems are firmly rooted in a family setting perhaps because of the limitation of my Creole vocabulary and often rely on food imagery as in the poem Couma ki piti zenfan guetter, the making of the sauce ti malice (which incidentally is only slightly less spicy than sauce grand malice). And again a key ingredient in Mauritian cuisine appears in my poem Mo ti Bb:
Outside of me, outside of house, you smile at birds, at trees, at clouds. Your body still as ginger root. En detoir moi, en detoir lakaz, to sourir ek zoiseau, ek arbres, ek nuages. To lecorp raid couma un razine zinzame.

Both the Mauritian language and cuisine have gone through a process of creolization over two and half centuries, absorbing the rich flavours and spices from the many arriving cultures and including the French and the Dutch contribution Pied de Cerf: Javanese deer feet. Not surprisingly, no ingredients from the English kitchen have made any impact, but 150 Creole words derive from the English language.



As the child looks on his mother pulls the linen from the cord. She flaps each sheet, folds each vest. Collars are starched, skirts are dressed. She is spit, she is steam, her stare removes the creases. As the child looks on, his mother sifts a saucepan of rice for stones. Every grain is washed, from the sink to the stove, to the table, she carries. She is fuel, she is steel, her skin seared at the wrists. As the child looks on, his mother crushes chillies, garlic and ginger. She stirs in the oil, water vinegar and seasons with salt. As she turns her back the child dips his finger into the jar of chilli sauce.

Couma ki piti zenfan guetter so mama tire linge lors la corde. Li sacouer sacque drap li plie sacque vest. Cole bien conge, jube bien depresser. Li crasser, li meme karo vapeur, so lapparence tire plis. Couma ki piti zenfan guetter, so mamma tamine ene deckcie douri pour tirer roches. Sack la grain fin laver de lavabo lors foyer li charyer li metre lors la table, li meme difeu, li meme fer So la peau lors so poignet fine brille. Couma ki piti zenfan guetter, so mama craze piments, lail et zinzame. Li melang de lhuile, dilo vinaigre ek du sel. Comme li tourne so le dos zenfant trempe so le doight dans pot la sauce ti malice.

Oliver Reynolds

In writing the word Frulein instead of putting the umlaut above the a he had put it above the u The more she looked at that double-stroke above the open letter the more Freudian it grew

Pascale Petit I was born in the Larzac

I was born in the Larzac is written in the spirit of the great Hungarian poet Ferenc Juhszs long prose poem At Childhoods Table (translated by Kenneth McRobbie). His is an extraordinary work. There is nothing like it in English poetry, it breaks so many bounds in its visionary extravagance and catalogues of compound nouns. Reading it is like entering a landscape by the roots. It made me think of the prehistoric Larzac plateau in the Languedoc where I spent my childhood summers, and which I had already written about in The Huntress, experimenting with the very long line. I tried Juhszs uninhibited clustering of expanding images in a prose poem and had fun with them but then hesitated. At this point I took out one extract and sent it to David and Helen as the short poem Dragon-Daughter, and they published it in their Transgressions issue. This encouraged me so I revised I was born in the Larzac and decided to submit it entire. Im pleased its in Getting it Across because it revisits a silent withdrawn childhood, which with Juhszs help has sprung into sound.



I was born in the Larzac

She lies in her daybed, her brown sheets rustling with earthworms, her beetle-carapace eye sockets staring up at me. I trap stag beetles in a box and watch them battle like Mamans left and right eyes. I am always avoiding her gaze, and yet yearning for the blaze behind her icicle-eyelashes. I sit quietly as a stone, smelling aromatic mint mingled with wild thyme, stab myself with brambles until my cries are louder than her cicada-chants and our furniture surfaces from the soil. The springs of her mattress uncoil from the wall, and here, under the lintel of a root-door, lies the mangled frame of that picture I hated. I was born in the Larzac, from a mistral-mother and a thistle-father. Two years she shared her bed with this monster. Two years she was the wind whetting his knife-sharpener spikes. His lips ground back and forth on hers. Her figleaf-hands wave to me from the top of the vineyard, where it vanishes into a tangle of oak-impaled boar carcasses. Then I follow the sunshine-freckled stream, to climb down the knotted ladder into its deep bed and hop from one stepping-stone to another, dodging the leaf roof.



My face turns like the Hourglass Nebula. The underwood-breathing, eagle-shrieking, minnowed whirlpool of my mind brims like the stream at full spate. I love everything that tumbled from the plateau into crayfish pools their claws are the dead waving, beckoning me up to the cascade, to shower under its silver shoals. The drops shocking my skin seem to sprout feather-shafts as I fly through the mossy past. And back into the sunglare, to dragonflies magnified by noon, the museums of their abdomens, wings opening like skylights of art galleries. I have spent my life trying to see these living palettes give birth to colour. I love the sun-bronze kingfisher and mud-velvet water rat equally in their earth burrows. I love the bear-bumblebee and tiger-hornet, the day frog and night toad, everything that teems where my giant shadow roams, while under Mamans gaze my child-shadow shrivels. I used to haul water up from the stream for washing, and down from the source for drinking. I was always climbing up and down the steep terraces, my childhood suspended between the rungs, over the adder-surprising, grass-snake-flashing paths, as I paused with my load. I was always scrubbing the spider-infested walls of our stone cottage with hard brooms, filling the cracks with stones. Yet each night, star insects crawled in from their sky nests.



Peeping through the hole next to my pillow, I could see a wasps nest galaxy, its queen laying double suns. A constellation of white ants raided our larders, ate everything we didnt lock in the cupboard. Black rats ran along times warped rafters, dropped onto my face as I slept. I saw the universe was a vineyard choking with brambles, patrolled by light year long praying mantises. I saw their straw-green helmets and Milky Way eyes. What do you want from me? I asked them, and their telescope eyes peered into mine and spoke. I scratch at Mamans dripstone encrusted cave-coffin, and weave a web of roots around it as if I could store her in my keepnet until I am strong enough to face her. The south breeze caresses me as I walk from ridge to ridge. The Mediterranean gleams like a radiant corpse, waves of its skin rising into the air to become cirrus. I am always at home, listening to the bone-voiced dead. I am always at my mothers grave, telling her everything. Did she know that she carried a dragon, that when she breastfed me I drank her bile and stored it in my body to turn to fire later? That when she made me speak, before my trembling voice obeyed her command, a firecloud escaped from my mouth to burn her face?



I was a silent and sullen child, deep as a well, magma boiling at its base. Getting me to talk was like drawing water and bringing up a lava bomb. I call her and she rises, trailing a rain of roots and stalactites, like the stormcloud at the end of childhoods summer. She sits with me at the table, a hulk of electric air; a rivers catch, raised and suspended. A whole farmhouse hovers in the gloom. In her thunderhead the gentle cows are trapped, their bells ringing. Seven years I stayed silent. I would not talk to her storm-face or eclipse-hair, even that one night she softened, and I saw the lunar arcs on her brow. I lay the table. The waxed cloth is printed with sunflowers and lavender, poppies and corn. The cicadas chant a grace. It is summer in our plates. The wine is from our vineyard a prehistoric vintage. The fruit is from our trees. I weeded them. I pruned them. The donkey carried water to them. My plate spins and I start eating Catherine wheels. I drink the wine of newborn stars; sip cognac old as Centaurus.

Annemarie Austin

1 Samuel Beckett: To restore silence is the role of objects. So. Without speech. I reach out to the object, a round thing, round with thing. So thing. With. So without speech I. Reach out to the object, I cry inside. I cry. Inside. So without speech. Without speech thing. Round. Round without thing. Thing inside, I cry. Thing I. Round and round and round I cry. Without. So I cry. Speech thing. I reach thing. Out. With I. I reach round thing to cry. Speech inside. I.



2 Wittgenstein: A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably. Moth she said, and he turned his head to her, smiling. Velvet along the fractured threads let us name what had broken from the web. Still hungry, she repeated Moth more insistently. They were at the window and at the window tapping till he turned out the light. No child any longer asked for a story since Moth was every word under her flying finger.



3 Charles Pelleton: I passed between two rows of perches on which parakeets from various countries were roosting The parakeets stood out like his separate thoughts, each one materialized and attached to a pole. That between the perches there were spaces not occupied by his thoughts, apertures in the procession of parakeets on poles, places where the mind lapsed. That this freed the colours. The green plumage he called blue with perfect confidence, lazing under the apse and looking out on a nothingness cooking like soup. What if he let go of memorys mooring poles: prelapsarian lapis lazuli Lapland

lisped Lapsang Suchong

At her lap lipsynch-ing la-la-la.



The recollection unexercised falls away by slow degrees like a parakeets flight aborted through moult, the aperture of air crossed only by lapsing feathers. 4 Geoffrey Hill: Reviewing language,/ I am wrought up by how patient it is. By when were you hard done? It was Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday . . . (Im sweeping past the day again) No, no. Why did the year? (Motivations a hard question) Because, from here where we are at home they went up to the moon. But dont believe it. Where came the mountain from? I was in the chemists buying guns . . . oh and a duplicator. But how to the people who werent there? You try to copy the day on the ground. (I cant speak at all in the dark between streetlamps)

Gregory Warren Wilson Three Poems

The Opacity of Strangeness

As soon as the April hailstorm ended my new Somali neighbour crunched to the middle of his lawn gathered up a handful of granules and took them back indoors . . . to pierce with a hot needle and thread on fuse wire like seed pearls. We only ever meet in passing, choosing limes in the corner shop, picking over the star anise, deferential as students at an evening class practising idioms, turns of phrase . . . hailstones in the ice-cube tray, matching pairs like moonstone earrings.



Today, clipping the privet hedge, I felt his gaze on the nape on my neck, that subtle sense the hairline has . . . how would topiary translate? but the moment I turned he dissolved like sugar into milk, like shadow into dusk. Whenever he smiles something escapes me.

On Not Reading Rilke

He goes on waiting, stupefied by hours of fluorescent light and milk glass shades in a library oppressed by the weight of shelved theses. Having drawn down all the blinds against the immanent eclipse he crosses his ankles and reclines as if for a board room portrait, tracing the repeating pattern in silk, neither listless nor alert but slack as a deckchair widow cruising the Aegean. Newly hatched, aphid-green, a lacewing on the pelmet eases open its wings and the moon turns black, black as frostbite, gnawing inch by inch till the corona sears and scorches everything into being,



being itself no metaphor. As for the body, the capsule he imagines himself to be, how can it intervene, what interpose when the solar wind flares earthward? He goes on waiting, waiting to see.

The Midnight Scholar

works on little-known poems 4th and 5th century Chinese Du Tzu and Fung Xi are his speciality. Its extremely unlikely youll have heard of them. He puts his versions on the web and corresponds with students doing PhDs in Nairobi and the Philippines who ask about the more obscure classical allusions. Actually he doesnt speak a word of Cantonese or Mandarin, but likes making notes



and theres an acupuncturist in Soho with a window display of grisly specimens in Petri dishes shrivelled up and labelled meticulously Cloud-ear Fungus, Blue Algae, Powdered Seahorse, Pangolin . . .

Pedro Serrano Four Poems from Still Life Translated by Anna Crowe

Born Montreal, 1957, Pedro Serrano is the author of the poetry collections El miedo, Ignorancia, Tres poemas and the recentlypublished Turba and Muchas nueces. His latest major collection is Desplazamientos (Editorial Candaya, Barcelona, 2006). In collaboration with Carlos Lpez Beltrn he edited and translated La generacin del cordero, a bilingual anthology of contemporary British poetry. He wrote the libretto for the opera Les Marimbas de lxil (music by Luc LeMasne), which was first performed in Besanon in January 2000 and then went on tour in Paris and Mexico. His translation of Shakespeares King John was published in 2001. He is a member of the Mexican Sistema Nacional de Creadores. Pedro Serrano told me that the poems in Naturalezas Muertas (Voces) which might be translated as Still Life (Voices) are to be read as a series of portraits of friends, rather like Elgars Enigma Variations. He added that most had quickly recognised his or her portrait. I have translated male voices in plain text, and female voices in italics, since the male or female identity is made obvious in the Spanish by the masculine or feminine endings of nouns and adjectives.


Serrano / Crowe

Still Life (voices)

1 Floating, taking part in actions without knowing them, without tasting them. Floating outwards, round about, in circles, in ecstasy in the sky, seeing the dust my footsteps leave, bleeding, leaving themselves behind, seeing the paths down in the valley, the criss-crossings that they make. Ceaselessly circling around all this lovesick carrion, obsessively circling and never touching anything ever. 2 Being there. Feeling my body opening through to my toes and finger-tips. Being mine. Being in his eyes. Being there. Not being. Unrepeatably repeating myself. Smelling myself, letting myself see through the sense of smell, unclothed, like this, the soul makes itself this vision which I supply, this friendship which is, which I prolong towards my body. To be because these fingers are my termites. Because in him I rise and in him I gaze at myself, I fall towards myself and in him I fall. Endlessly abandoning myself to myself in this laughter, being me and being her and me and being her and her and me before her vast eyes.

Serrano / Crowe


3 I see myself in the mirror, and claw at my face. One two, three, the same features, always the other one, always the same one, strong, hard-faced, cold. The same surface muddying into blackness, disintegrating, narrowing. Just think of all that patience repeating itself in black blood, just think of the weeping, the four stubborn smears that sketch my face. Its as though Im flaying myself so I can be repeated there, spending and clawing at myself. I am this gash, this warped, resentful wood, this never-ending switching from role to role, this chewed-over resentment that withers, depicts, and withers me. One two, three, always those other features, always the other one, the same one, in a draining away that chafes, chafes, and chafes, that never tears itself up and goes naked. 4 What are the whereabouts of this babble of tongues, this suicide flight of words, this hermit-crab that is my story? As though the music of a language might save me, as though I might conjugate myself or flow wildly along! As though I could cast it all off, break loose, melt into a city with no name, no past, run like a salmon towards its origin, disinherit myself, slide out from all this jostle. There learn to lisp, in all innocence, in the ignorance of the echoes.

Stephanie Norgate Two haiku versions of Lucretius

See Stephanie Norgates note on her versions in MPT 3/7. We publish the two following here because both have to do with signs and effects, with things being made manifest.

The damage of wind and water (De Rerum Natura, 1, 265-297)

The hidden atoms of the wind flow like water and, like water, churn out maelstroms. Mem, youve watched a gale whip up wave clutter, capsize ships, blow away clouds?

Lucretius / Norgate


A racing twister rip out trees, juggle them, then scatter them on plains, batter mountain peaks with forestsplintering blasts? Heard unseen thunder? You have seen runnels swell into torrents brimming with icemelt, swirling uprooted orchards to the rivers mouth, whirling arms of trees down weirs. Bridges wont withstand the skeltering storm water. So a burn swollen by deluging rain drives its force against arches, smashes heavy stone, hurls away and drowns whatever resists the flow of its wild currents. Whirlwind or whirlpool, both smash, twirl, rip, wind things up in sucking eddies.


Lucretius / Norgate

So, wind must be made of invisible bodies, since, in its effects, it is like water, whose visible bodies burns rivers, vortices, canals, springs and seas are moving and substantial to your naked eye.

The sensuous proof of atomism (De Rerum Natura, 1, 298-328)

You cant see a voice, but you hear airwaves vibrate. You know heat through touch. Clothes dampen, hung out on a wave-breaking beach, dry on an inland bush. Do you see mizzle creeping into the cloths weave? Can you watch it leave? A ring wears away. You do not see the gold go, thinning day by day.

Lucretius / Norgate


Drips bore holes in stone. Under the earth, a rubbed flint strikes atoms from the ploughs blade. Passeggiata. Who sees the steps curve deepen under the crowds feet? Tourists shake the hands of bronze statues by the gate. A joke that wears thin. We do not see salt eating away the chalk cliffs until the house falls. Our eyes dont freeze frame, cant attenborough a vines snaking growth through trees. We are not brahmins, dont brush away ants, fearing to crush the unseen. We need a glass lens, not our eyes. Then well admit the hidden matter.

Robin Fulton Four poems

Not points of flame but icy tongues from the north-west sting me by the shore. In crevices seapinks keep their fine balance. I lack both the bravura of gale-defying petals and the mindlessness of rock: I could try between four walls but so many languages I dont know howl past, prise at gable-ends with such fury I tell myself its music. Deep inside it I inhale silence. But the silence starts howling as well, a language with only one word to rage in.



The Silent Haiku

The first day of frost. I hear too much. Shoes and tyres on gritty asphalt. And the words breathed out sound like a plague of locusts. The louder life gets the more I long for seventeen bits of silence, five, seven and five.

Wood Anemones
Days lengthen, spaces between trees are wide, long before being filled in. As if to tremble is to live windflower petals tremble, half in half out of last years grass tangles. Youd think theyd arrived from far off before place has been made for them. They are small voices, are so small they know they have nothing to say, are wise enough not to say it.



Each is too white to make much mark on the spreading landscape, too cool to give way as far as pastel. Thats the one place in the landscape where rhetoric is quite absent, where the landscape if it had things to say could find ways of saying them.

Words like trout

in a glassy pool, abruptly not-there as I stare at their backs. I dont own words but I lose them. Words dont own me but they lose me. Arbitrary is a migrant, erratic, follows no seasons, most of the time hides somewhere else. Nutmeg is wary and jealous. If Muskat comes near me, nutmeg gets lost in the air for ages. They have their habits, belong (wouldnt they say?) to the Fifth Day, will inherit the earth when we step off, not one word in our mouths.

Martha Kapos Two Poems

Anecdote of a Stone
Dull and exact as a stone this word might have remained in the kingdom of minerals the colour of green iron and obedient to its cold law if I hadnt bent down to find it just the right size for my hand if I hadnt lifted it from the dust by the side of the road and aimed it unswerving as a key and while the pond lay perfectly still locked edge to edge in the ground flat as a cloth covering a table a face that gave nothing away its as if this one word with the piercing trajectory of a stone sailed through the air and if this could have been



the accomplishment of a stone it might have rung in the high air like a bell it might have waved a flag at the sky and while the pond lay huddled in a dark circle holding its deep breath like a wish this word might have leant close as a stone and bent its long black arc down and if the pond had held open its centre its target as wide as an ear listening this one word might with the accuracy of a stone have broken the surface with a gentle splash and found its way to the abundant unentered heart beating at the bottom and even though the pond had withdrawn to an innermost place pulled back like a house behind its walls its as if this one word rode straight through its doors and sent the awakened waves curling and casting their light in increasing circles like the smile that wont stop breaking across your face.



their eyes blow through her as she tries to speak pad pad pad on mumble feet her eager as a candle walk is pulled and wrenched by the wind their eyes are on her as she tries to place each wide unwilling fluent as a puddle word in precisely the right slippery order on the floor their eyes are vacant air around her as she tries to balance teeter totter high Look she is forming a sentence! on a single long tight-ropey line heading babystep babystep for a silence waiting without hands on the other side of the room

Carole Satyamurti Three Poems

Here and There

On the shady side of Rue Caulaincourt one of the two local down-and-outs is taking a leak, shaking a last few drops off the end of his limp, pink dick, a small defiant gesture at us, is it? before tenderly tucking it away. This side, Im eating a bavette, succulent, point. I eat alone, with perfect manners. I dont even apply lipstick in public. From here, his prick looks pale, sad as a deflated balloon. All day he drinks, and smiles and talks to an imaginary friend who understands him. He needs to piss often. That is his pitch, and he is king of it.



Theres no such thing as an inconsequential fact. He is there. I am here. In between, the traffic flows and flows.

The Messenger
They found him by the sea, down Margate way, wandering about, classy suit soaked through. Wouldnt speak not a single syllable to go on so they brought him in here, obviously. Were used to strange, but he was alien you might say, though he ate OK, slept, drank, shat like the rest of us. Usually new ones are jumpy, but he seemed at peace just watchful. Sometimes youd see a trace of tears. How can there be nothing but silence on the tip of a mans tongue not even piss off or pass the salt? He seemed to manage by not wanting anything. After a while, we gave him painting things and he made marks just shapes and scribbles nothing made sense. Every day hed show us, as though it was a message, or a question well you felt useless you could see from his eyes it was important. Star gazers eyes, flecked with silver light. Are you a visitor from outer space? I said to him, just to be friendly. Silence, of course.



One day he wasnt there. I still miss him. I know you might well ask. But I never saw anyone so beautiful, so completely harmless. Dont laugh in my mind, I call him Gabriel.

Only Joking
Jokes were what he had to say for himself; they stood for small talk he didnt know how to, for ordinary love you he didnt know how to. Did my mother, refined as Reigate, ever laugh? Some demon drove him to embarrass, as if to say Ill really give you something to despise, and I not knowing who to side with When I think of cringe, I think of that. When I brought friends home Id will him: talk shop, fishing, anything. It took years not to mind What goes . . . a sailor, a dog and a paper bag . . . under the ground?

Harry Martinson Five Poems Translated by Robin Fulton

Harry Martinson (19041978) grew up in Jmshg, Blekinge, in southwest Sweden. When he was six his father died and then his mother departed to the U.S.A., leaving him and his sisters as parish orphans, fostered out to various families. His escape from this was to sail the oceans from 1920 to 1927. Returning to his native tracts, he eventually became one of the best known writers of his generation, his prose and verse appealing widely, both to academics and to the common reader. His books naturally reflect his upbringing (Nsslornablomma / Blossoming Nettles, 1935, Vgen ut / TheWay Out, 1936), and his wanderings (Resor utan ml /Journeys with No Destination, 1932, Kap Farvl / Cape Farewell, 1933) and then his interest in science and social questions (Verklighet till dds / Reality to Death, 1940, Vgen till Klockrike / The Road to Klockrike, 1948). His space odyssey Aniara (1956) records a space mission off-course and heading for nowhere: the work received a new lease of life as the basis for Karl-Birger Blomdahls opera (1959). His election to The Swedish Academy in 1949 was seen as a gesture towards a generation of more or less self-educated


Martinson / Fulton

working-class writers, and he shared the 1974 Nobel Prize for Literature with novelist Eyvind Johnson. His poetry has many strands but the most characteristic, or the most admired, is that which combines close scrutiny of the small items and events of the natural world with an intense awareness of cosmic distances in both space and time. His Nobel citation refers to his ability to catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos. Unfortunately, sections of the Swedish press responded to his Nobel Prize (or rather the fact that the Academicians had rewarded two of their own) with such vehemence that he vowed never to publish again, and his last years were darkened by despair and depression as his view of the state of the world became gloomier.

We fished up the Atlantic cable betweeen Barbados and Tortuga, held up our lanterns and patched over the gash on its back, fifteen degrees north and sixty-one west. When we put our ears to the gnawed part we heard the murmuring of the cable. One of us said: Its the millionaires in Montreal and St Johns discussing the price of Cuban sugar and the lowering of our wages.

Martinson / Fulton


We stood there long, thinking, in a lantern circle, we patient cable-fishers, then lowered the mended cable back to its place in the sea. (Modern lyrik/Modern Poetry, 1931)

Bottle with the note itself as passenger bobbed in the North Atlantic for seventeen years. Silently and continuously referred to a giant steamer from Southampton. Ran aground and froze in in the ice round Labrador. (Dikter om ljus och mrker / Poems on Light and Darkness, 1971)


Martinson / Fulton

The swamp mosses drink of the stream . . .

The swamp mosses drink of the stream until it is more and more low-voiced. It sinks its watery clucking to a summer whisper, drowned out by midges. It soon changes to sign-language, which every tussock knows. Soon its hidden meaning blossoms up in moist buckbean. (Tuvor/Tussocks, 1973)

Spruce stands bole by bole . . .

Spruce stands bole by bole with spruce They wrap themselves together hold a needly brim over the twin-flower bells. The flight of the grass-moth is low and fluttering with unheard wingbeats. Here the northern forest whispers its least song. (Tuvor/Tussocks, 1973)

Martinson / Fulton


The wind searched in the forest grass . . .

The wind searched in the forest grass and found a word, it sounded like unsayable life but it was a name the biggest stone gave to the smallest twilight butterfly. Too hard to remember says the wave. Too fine to be said flickers the wind. (Posthumously published)

Jenny Joseph An essay and five poems, after drawings by Jaume Prohens

Images and Texts

These five drawings and texts formed part of an exhibition by the Catalan artist Jaume Prohens. Drawing a Response was the second exhibition Oliver Jelf mounted at the Illustration Gallery, his new gallery in Stroud. Jelfs experience of illustration had been mainly where the illustrator is presented with a finished text or even a remit to draw a marketing managers idea for a book cover. The range of relationship between illustrator and writer is wide and has something in common with that between translator and translated: from nil to being implicated as strands twisted to make a rope are. Some poets in the Stroud area were invited to look at Prohens drawings and write a poem to be exhibited alongside. I have enjoyed working in different ways with graphic and non-literary artists and I had suggested this very exercise of reversing the position of writer and illustrator/song-setter to an American composer who had set some of my published poems wouldnt it be fun, for a change, for the writer to be presented with ready-made music to write words for?

Joseph / Prohens


I was enthusiastic but time (about a fortnight) was desperately short. I may react quickly but take a long time to finalize it in words sufficiently to show anyone, let alone publish and exhibit as part of anothers work. If I had a single poem to translate I would want to read as much as possible of the writers work; know what in his/her language that writer had been brought up on, and reckoned; read and hear something of current poetry and something of the poetic forms that language had developed inherently from its grammar and rhythms. I wanted to be able to tune in to Prohens drawings in the same way. All I knew was, that he was Catalan, lived in Mallorca and was prolific in painting and sculpture as well as drawing. There were the two dozen drawings in the gallery and a note hed written for a book he did with a poet in the 1990s. Of the drawings still without a text I picked five. I put them up together on a shelf to see which one I could best do something with and found myself re-arranging them like a hand of cards into suits. Mulling over copies at home I realized a sequence was forming and I would use the five. Two had titles: Penitents (or Penitence?) on the one I put second; a Spanish saying which translated as So what if we lose the button? on my fifth and which apparently meant What does it (anything?) matter? I had noticed there were quite a few animals in Prohens pictures. Churches and priests figured. The anti-clericalism I recognized in Prohens might well have come from the satirical cartoon tradition he had absorbed rather than his personal stance, as with his portrayal of secular authority, but religion and politics were there in what he drew. You can only write something to order quickly if it somehow connects with what youve been turning over in your mind. For the past three years Id been immersed in George Orwells writing, particularly what emerged from his and his wife Eileens involvement in the Spanish Civil War and the development of his position on authoritarianism. I have also for


Joseph / Prohens

a long time tried to get some neuro-biological knowledge to reinforce my interest in the differences between human and non-human animals. These texts are not poems to stand on their own. They have no titles but act as extended captions or subtitles, the titles being the drawings. A true translation of a picture into words would reflect the technical mode of the visual in the structure of the language and choice of words. The impossibility of doing this brings me slap bang against the wall I encounter because I cant draw. Much as I tried to write as if I had done the drawings, theres a lot in the text that didnt come from them. With language, once uttered or written you can never control its activity, as a draughtsman can a pure line. I know this is illusion. I look over the fence from the stony ground of my battle with words to the lush green grass of the visual artist. If only I could draw . . . I would have the same difficulties, the limitations being not in the medium but in myself. This exercise of trying to transfer pictures into words belongs therefore to what I think of as the wider (wilder?) shores of translation.

Joseph / Prohens



The child tried to reach them: Creatures who would play with him and, Friendly, keep him from such terrors as might be In the world that danced with colours as they moved. But as he neared the surface of the water It thickened. They must have moved away Or drifted to ground, embedded in the silt Which, being disturbed, transfused the clear element With a twilight that spread from the bottom, not from the sky.


Joseph / Prohens


They have come from some horror, And they have brought or found an animal They can feel is further outcast than they are; A lower object to saddle with their wickedness, The better suited to their need as, not a stone, It will cry out and bleed as they do. They learnt how to punish from what banished them To this forlorn bare place. For the animal The wilderness is where it might survive Unclever beast that has no soul to be seared. Human iniquities bound upon its back Will not damn it. Sticking to skill and cunning it might escape The thoughtful clever humans Wholl never be absolved from the Hell they have made.

Joseph / Prohens



Come to the Meeting. Trumpets. Trumpets. To the Place of Discussion gather all ye. They are streaming up to the concourse in twos and threes Thickening to a solid on the moorland flat. The town below has emptied. All the citizens Join in the three-day Fair where annually Matters of state and government are settled. They are waiting to listen to the Parliament Speaker.


Joseph / Prohens

An unusual huddle of men with a cart is noticed. Others thread through the throng with batons and ropes. They bind the Speaker and each family Headman. They stand them up in the cart to be vilified. The biggest thug gets on to the Speakers Stone Where at every assembly over five hundred years Each had their turn to speak. I am your General now. Its me youll worship. See how your Speaker slavers in fear before me.

Joseph / Prohens



Get into line, each in appointed place. Keep behind the marks painted on the road. All find your numbered place. Your number is on your ticket with the permission. Wait for the whistle at which the procession will start, Each moving in step. No pushing or shoving, please. When the bearers reach the catafalque at the church gate Spontaneously burst into song to the Glory of God.


Joseph / Prohens

So what if weve lost the button?

Oh sweet little elephant! Chubby and calm, complaisantly You carry the ridiculous burden theyve loaded you with. The uselessness of the schemes of their fantasy world Does not affect your plodding evenly on. Unfazed, neither for nor against, just a Nice little elephant.

Martti Hynynen Five Poems Translated by Mike Horwood

Martti Hynynen was born in Rovaniemi, Finland, close to the Arctic Circle, in 1952 and grew up on the banks of Finlands greatest river, Kemijoki. His first collection, saari, nimetn luoto (island, nameless rock), was published in 1991 by Werner Sderstrm and his second is nearing completion. The five poems here are all from the first collection and they are representative of that collection in their surreal style and use of simple, pared-back language. The tone of Hynynens poems in saari, nimetn luoto is tentative and unassuming, his imagery is typically modest and humble; potato shoots and snails are recurring images. Yet there is often an uneasy sense of threat and danger in his poems. Survival depends on having the wisdom to take evasive action or the ability to blend in with the background and escape notice. This is the wisdom that the snails in Appraisal of the Collection exhibit. Despite this sometimes rather dark tone, though, the emphasis is on surviving, which Hynynen sees as a guiding principle of nature. He also has a wonderful sense of humour.


Hynynen / Horwood

in the evening when someone lifts me to their ear and expects to hear the seas roar or perhaps the wind woven with the sirens song, I myself hear the creaking of oars rhythmic drumming and the lazy lashing of the whip on the rowers backs

Appraisal Of The Collection

during the crutch collection on behalf of our neighbouring country, and before the final result proved it to have been the most successful ever, I considered how snails, sovereigns of the world, wise and liberated, free-thinkers with a broad concept of reality

Hynynen / Horwood


learn when still young the most important things; the basic steps of the rain dance, and to recognise from the earths quaking how danger threatens when the middle-aged nature study group under the guidance of a shrill-voiced leader becomes acquainted with various species of bush

The framework of the childrens sandbox was used as reinforcement for the street barricade, so that since the beginning of the week, after the lifting of the curfew the tired customers have been standing with blue spades in their hands in the middle of a desert.


Hynynen / Horwood

Foundry Worker
if Id had the choice I would have liked to have been born as the bell that men listen to while eating their lunch under a tree, the chimes echoing into the distance and dying away, they get up take their backpacks and caps and leave

A Lingering Look
as the snows disappear into the forest the shivering of your hands is the longing in wing beats in a moonless sky, a solitary flight towards your own light

Lucy Hamilton An extract from a sonnet version of The Legend of Lalla Maghnia

Lalla Maghnia is a Muslim warrior-saint, or holy woman, of Algerian myth and legend. She lived, loved, fought battles, married, had children, performed miracles and finally died young in Northern Algeria, where she was Raj-es-Salin of the religious centre (Zaoua) in Maghnia, the town to which she gave her name. It seems likely that Lalla Maghnia lived around 1750 CE, just before the onset of colonialism. My source is La Lgende de Lalla Maghnia, DAprs La Tradition Arabe, by A. Maraval-Berthoin (LEdition DArt, H. Piazza, Paris, 1927). This is a book of 42 chapters in highly poetic prose. Each chapter tells its own little story and while the narrative is certainly linear, the passage of time between one chapter and the next can be a day, several months or years. In my sonnet version, for the most part, each of the 46 poems corresponds to its original chapter. I have aimed to retain the events of the original story and, in translating, to be faithful to the general meaning, more particularly to the language where Ive had to take aspects of Muslim religious practice on trust.



Kaddours Kiss
Laleh Kaddour (asleep) Laleh Kaddour (asleep) Laleh Kaddour (asleep) Laleh Kaddour (asleep) Laleh Allah! alone in the incense of your flowers I offer my heart engraved by faiths own angel. Sleeps sweeter to my ear than the reeds that cradle me in the flutes soft music like a prayer. Allah! alone with you I feel so far from men and lament my womans spiritual power. Sleeps sweeter to my ear than the wells dark water that takes the form of a two-handled jar. Allah! alone with you I think of love which hasnt till now troubled my flesh or virtue. Sleeps sweeter to my ear than the pearls of dew which taste of the blissful kisses Im dreaming of. Allah! I stretch my arms toward my shepherd whos brown as the earth and simple as his word. Sleeps sweeter to my heart than this white dove offered by the lover to his virgin lover. Allah! Let me succumb to my desire to be taken by you as your loving wife. But whos that calling me? Whos calling Laleh? O here in the reeds a young man takes the form of my desire and on his lips my names a kiss and again he calls me Lalla, Lalla. I have been waiting for you in order to pick the mornings rose: you smiling at Kaddour . . . The sky is bleeding with me he says its dawn as he falls asleep again in the reeds and rocks and on his face the heat of his desire seems overlaid with embers of quenched fire.

Kaddour Laleh



Lalehs Despair
Laleh O Allah, why O why am I forsaken? O You who read in the hidden place of the soul and of the flesh, O Master see me, listen to my repentance and make my body whole. My feeble heart became so strong before the pride of the sultans and the double-dealing of traitors. But my heart grew more and more weakened by the shepherd who came to steal my body and soul away. O hear me Allah! If You permit that in my thought and flesh all stain be washed away, Ill walk to Mecca on bended knees and take the pledge to banish myself for ever from mens eyes. Ill kiss the white stone Adam brought from Paradise.

The Counsel of the Hadjes

Divine Scriptures Exalt the name of Allah! Praise his power! Thanks be that Lalla Maghnia is pure. Because she has been cleansed she has regained her honour and is a virgin once again. Youll take the pilgrims cape and go to Mecca and there receive the name of Hadj in order to continue the line of those who lie entombed. And Allahs star of seven rays will guide you. But first, as waters wash all stain away, be vigilant. Pray. Watch and pray.




O Allah, your white dove is in my breast but to mix in the world is the ultimate test: how can I dare when I might meet the man who in truth could tell them that I lay with him? O miracle! The wall is fading and wearing away and look, it is the early morning on the green hill that has cast off its cover and theres Kaddour, smiling, drunk with love. His flock of sheep surrounds him bleating as one by one they rise into the cirrus heaven. And he, my earth-brown shepherd, holds his hands toward the Lord and stretches up. He stands for prayer at dawn, extending his whole body which lengthens into the branches of a tree. Exalt the name of Allah! Praise his kindness! He is the one who gives true happiness. For in this tragedy where man revolves, his is the only pardon which absolves.

Divine Scriptures

At the Palace of Rosalcazar en Route to Mecca

Mustapha el Kbir Laleh Mustapha el Kbir Laleh O Lalla Maghnia, accept my thanks for coming all this way to the domain of Ouarhan and especially for not remembering Mustapha el Kbirs past indiscretion. The long route leading to these ancient ramparts became for me the sky traversed by birds. And here, at the Palace of Rosalcazar, more beautiful than all the praise Ive heard, you are the loveliest rose amongst my roses. These gorgeous women are worthy of your joy.



Mustaphas White Rose of Allah, we honour you with Wives dances to express our happiness. Please enjoy. Mustapha And these old walls which are as dull and el Kbir gloomy as Spanish roumis will brighten instantly. That mountains proud Moudjardjo isnt it there opposite crowned with a huge fortress? Mustapha Which was the tiara of their warrior-priest. Laleh But now our Crescent has replaced their Cross. Mustapha Glory to Allah! The mountain they called Santa el Kbir Cruz has reclaimed its rightful name Moudjardjo. Laleh And the tiaras now your turban of glory. Mustaphas If our lord permits it, Fatimeh Wives our sweetest voice will tell the age-old story of a saint who lived there moons and moons ago. Fatimeh My sisters make fun of me. I dont know how I must speak to tell a convincing tale. Mustapha But Shahrazad will light her lamp to show el Kbir you and shell help you to convey it well. Fatimeh Long ago there lived a saint who in previous times had been a great sultan like our Bey. He preferred that rock to his luxurious palace and asked for miracles: the rock obeyed. For the thirsty it sprang the waters of life; it gave forgiveness to the man who cried in his remorse; a child to the sterile wife. He was so happy he never wanted to die! And then, well, he died for even so he wasnt Allah. But he comes each day to bless us and of course we never know him since hes horse, pilgrim, bird of prey . . . O Fatimeh, you have the lamp and voice. Thank you for telling the lovely legend to us. Laleh




Toward the Holy City

Oarsmen Mariner People Warriors Women Priests Slaves Shepherds Elders Poor Nomads Merchants Children Mariner The chain is heavy and the hearts route is long. The ship is waiting to leap towards the horizon. O Rose of Allah, we are loath to see you depart. You are the steady beating in our hearts. We greet you with the days tears of departure. We bless your ship as it prepares for Mecca. We unfurl before you a rainbow of prayer-tapis. We cascade flowers from fields where your dew is. We offer the olive branch of Allahs will. We say your right hands bread and the left is milk. Your name is clear fresh water from the oasis. Your names the scales where perfect balance is. Your name is always Mamma: kind and lovely. The ships now ready: filled with sugar and honey.

On the Winged Ship

Laleh Pilgrims Laleh Mariner Laleh Mariner Laleh Time passes and days are the same in the balm of the double sky: the storm has clipped our wings. But we felt more alive than in this calm! Tell me, in which direction are we sailing? A huge wave took the needle in its case and I cant say precisely where we are. Is your judgement not an honest compass? The ship tossed like an orange and the stars for many nights have veiled their guiding eyes. The pilgrims tire: they are hungry and thirsty. In truth our ship must be a distant cry from land for you to be so miserly with rations. Were they also snatched by waves? And I regret that our pilgrims are not brave.




Pilgrims Mariner Pilgrims Mariner Laleh

To drink! To drink a little quenching water in this exhausting hell of bitter sea! You are not worthy of Lalla Maghnia. But Allah brings her food! She isnt hungry! If that were true she would have portioned it between her faithless servants like Mohammed who shared his dwindling rations in the desert. An evil thought has formed in someones head back home at my Zaoua on this day they dedicate to our safely reaching Mecca. So, as the sheep are roasting and the honey is flowing and dates tumble down in clusters, the angels will relieve them of their feast and serve it up to us as we drift East.

A Feast from Heaven

Pilgrims The folding doors of Heaven are opening and down the brilliant gold and azure stairs two double rows of angels are descending with dishes Allahs kitchen has prepared. Six cherubs proffer condiments in cupped and chubby hands: red and green pimento assorted into heaps and finely chopped upon bright-yellow rounds of fresh-cut lemon. Two cupids who are slightly bigger, with wings still glowing from the fires of the kitchen, approach with a white peacock they are lifting on a plate above their heads. And after them the succulent meat is carried by adult angels a sheep, wild boar and a young tender gazelle.



Lalla Maghnia

And for the dainties of dessert the houris those nymphs from Paradise with fragrant arms and long black hair and mocha-coloured eyes bring luscious cakes of date and char-grilled almond, croissants with ornaments of scarlet pearls, oranges, roses, nougats and pastilles, and gteaux all adorned like our beautiful girls! rolled in sugar and perfumed with vanilla. Come forward, oarsmen, for your well-earned share. At Allahs feast the portions will be equal. And as sheep turn in the ashes of the spit and the rowdy revellers are about to eat, they are dismayed to watch it disappear before their very eyes at my Zaoua.

Circle of Desire
Laleh The feast is finished and angels bring mint tea and coffee, and in the perfumed vapours of the pipes the coconut bowls of the narghileh the houris dance with wispy scarves of cloud-fluff. Its thanks to you, O Lalla Maghnia, that Heaven saved us. But intoxication corrupts the mind of brother, husband, father: their hearts are full of lust and bad intention. We all want you, but give you the right to choose amongst us. On the wedding day the joy of the groom is contagious: no one loses when each shares the love of the lucky man. O Laileh how, with my old bones, am I going to protect you from these madmen?










O Allah, Im afraid. Be in my eyes and words. Let me crush them under my feet like worms. Grant that any man who tries will not be able to advance or retreat. Shes bringing out her faithful talisman but what can the golden hand of Fathma do? What can it do against our thousand hands? Since you wont choose, we will all have you. Dont touch me! This talisman will draw a ring around me whose force you will soon discover for this invisible circles not for breaching and Fathma will paralyse the evil mover . . . O Allah! Mercy! The weight of all the sea and all the earth and sky is crushing me.

Tsvetanka Elenkova Six Poems Translated by Jonathan Dunne

Tsvetanka Elenkova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1968 and educated at the Russian High School and the University of National and World Economics. After a short stint in her opera-singer fathers footsteps, she turned to her great love of literature. She co-founded Ah, Maria, the first independent literary magazine in Bulgaria after the fall of Communism and has proceeded to publish three poetry collections, the most recent of which, The Seventh Gesture (2005), is due to be published in Jonathan Dunnes translation by Shoestring Press in 2008. Her work has appeared in the sadly disappeared Orient Express (UK) and in Absinthe (US), and has been translated in a total of thirteen countries, from Argentina and Chile to Turkey and Ukraine. She translates from English and Greek into Bulgarian, including the anthology of Indian mystic poetry Speaking of Siva and Jonathan Dunnes selection of Raymond Carvers poetry Luck. She co-edits the Bulgarian publisher Balkanis series of Modern English Poetry.

Elenkova / Dunne


The Wounds of Freedom

Some buy leather leads for dogs of a definite length. Others prefer automatic leads with a reel. You let the dog run at will but you decide when to retrieve it. I set mine free. But two or three times it ran away and came back covered in wounds, so now I set it free but only in my yard. My dog howls at the squirrels, in the evening at the moon. And when we pile firewood next to the fence it climbs up and jumps over it. And again comes back with wounds. After that I decided to keep it on a chain. For my dog to be free of wounds.

With Wings and Teeth

Where is the difference? Is it in the lack of plumage or of teeth? Only people, I think, are born without teeth and all their life hope for wings. Demons and angels must have created them. Some lose their teeth, others only have teeth left. If youre a treasure-hunter, youll understand. But I never found anyone with wings. Only with shards, which tormented my grandmother and bent her double dung-beetle. When we buried her with two lilies of the valley, when a grassblade welled up from the sprinkling, I saw them. Growing transparent.

Orpheus and Eurydice

Of all who lied to me, I believed all, but you most. Who lied to me the most. That part in hide-and-seek, when you pretend not to see your little friend, your child. Its the same when you let someone start or slip him a card. Then you shake his hand and kiss him on the right (or left) cheek. You out of love for him. He out of love for the game. In a similar situation Orpheus turned round and also didnt spy Eurydice. Didnt spy her. But she receded. They say, by the will of the gods.


Elenkova / Dunne

Safety Valves
When I see how the air directly over a candle turns to liquid, how the air over asphalt when hot also turns to liquid, how the sea in the sun recalls heated asphalt (some say its a mirage), I understand these tears in me, down below like a trees peeled bark, up above like a pruned vine, are actually fire, which combined with air makes water. Only high up in the tree-tops, the crowns, where the breeze never ceases, only there are found clouds white or grey stratus, or a heap of fire and water combined.

The Seventh Gesture

With finger on mouth, when you do not want to wake someone or the teacher walks in. He puts a finger to his mouth when he wants to quieten the class. Or he tells you straight to shut up. But what intrigues me most is the way it slides down, pulls away from the lips. After youve imposed the silence. Some just loosen their hand, others draw it out to point, others hold it longer like this. And a fold in the fingers, bliss from the tiredness of the unwonted gesture. This is how the Byzantine iconographers first painted them. The saints.

The Legend of Narcissus

Every evening he waited for her at the window. But he only ever saw himself and left. Till one day he decided to wait her out and stopped waiting. Leaning over the water, he flopped and started swimming. Not like people with their head above water but like fish. He came up for air once or twice, a dolphin or a whale, and then he sank for good. With eyes ever open inside the looking-glass. The rest carried on learning about evolution how creatures emerged from the water on to dry land. The rest carried on interpreting the legend of Narcissus.

Turul Tanyol Four Poems Translated by Ruth Christie

Turul Tanyol is a well-known poet, critic and essayist in Turkey. He was born in 1953 in Istanbul and educated at the Catholic Lyce of St Joseph and the University of the Bosphorus. In 1985 he won the Necatigil Prize for poetry. To date he has published six books of poetry and written many reviews and critical essays. He teaches social sciences at the University of Marmara. His poetry is lyrical but controlled by a classical clarity. It has been said of him that he is a poet alive to the pitfalls of blind ideological allegiances. He has been translated into Spanish, French and English and was the first Turkish poet to take part in the Trois Rivires poetry festival in Quebec.


Tanyol / Christie

A City Seen from Inside

Like a motionless river the city pours into its own dark waters I go down to the sea through an alley, rain on my head and rest at the foot of a solitary tree stripped of its bark A dark army of voices deceived by the faded smiles that pursue the old days Bandits wrapped in thick furs, a pack of wolves flow down the hills, exiles from snowy plains to drown in the dark waters of the city. At this moment I know some are leaving the lives of others and some are entering, I see their tired bleary eyes, hands outstretched to night Rain in the alley that goes down to the sea drags some to the faraway roads of others. Now my eyes look far and enter lonely night-trains Behind the cries fleeing in all directions from what or whom of shadows looming large by station lamps that rock in the rain A big nothingness, a hot rain of grief and desertion falls on my lips, on streets and station lamps on passenger-boats that every evening empty weary hopes on the wharf on the dockyard on the doused lights of a last shift on love and grief, and gnaws on loneliness.

Tanyol / Christie


Like a motionless river the city pours into its own dark waters I know, at this moment a train laden with impossible dreams vanishes into the night A ship vanishes into the night and the dark country of stars Every moment everywhere some part from others Every moment everywhere some meet with others All the roads breathe quietly in and out. Here are the lonely the armys horseless wrestlers The prayer-mat spread for darkness, the clock its directions to Mecca broken Everything in a faded mirrors fathomless depths, the wolf-pack racing down the hills, exiles from snowy plains doorbells, provisions, death oozing from the last shift Everything rushing in panic to the city to drown in its dark waters.

Vase Poem
1 This is a tubby vase, can the years have removed its tiny waist? Thats surely not a sunflower reaching above the rim but a bright red carnation that nobody loves


Tanyol / Christie

2 This is a cracked vase which long ago a potters hand raised into the air you could see daylight from inside a detail Id forgotten This is a shapely vase, like feet that rapidly shift to the rhythm of music and dance like rippling satin that covers the bosom and stirs 3 This is a dragon-shaped vase, the inside conveys Taos laughter only the wild bamboos Li Po brought back from the house of the Tao master whom he sought but never found look good in this vase This is a tipsy-looking vase of jade and not distant as Pounds Cathay but just as near 4 This is a dark vase, inside the rank smell of forgotten flowers 5 This is a vase full of pain reflecting the emptiness of a house veiled in flowers of gauze

Tanyol / Christie


6 This is a vase full of rain if you look along the rim youll see sorrow on its surface

A Single Season
everything one season the rose smells once lives endlessly in dreams, my mother takes my hand again we walk on the cobblestones. a childs eyes fixed on the sky what does he see that we cant see any more? everything one season there trees slowly grow tall river waters passing days so many things fit into a single season, the snake awakes from its sleep rain beats down on the hills and love puts out fresh shoots in the damp warm hollows of earth, my dear one turns to me our love for a child is a single season alone enough for that? I look at my wrinkled forehead there are hundreds of things I cant understand among them magazines, books, diaries everything one season in the net that brings us together as one soul.


Tanyol / Christie

everything one season. Como, a hot summer, a messy table my son has become a man he sits before me we enjoy the wine, this is a good time, I say a good life, whatever happens. my days return to me the season gathers itself I smell again fish caught in the nets as my mother and I pass Fatih Market every morning like a rite. everything one season. in the suns fractured light in a drop of rain in the earths young shoot if we look carefully we can see how those little lives increase understanding, it pierces a human being like love and the pain felt in living leaves happiness behind. everything one season. everything so distant like being abandoned stark naked in the midst of water.

Tanyol / Christie


my bodys a prison when words escape it becomes free my soul must be their hell the peace they couldnt find in me they seek in other souls a box of steel hard as a heart yet possible to open with the old words of some anonymous person stamped inside some words some songs awake the human in us they lurk for hours on the tip of our tongue like the drop in the corner of our eye that refuses to flow

bedenim bir hapisane szler diar ikar ikmaz zgrleiyor ruhum bir cehennem olmali onlara bende bulamadiklari huzuru ariyorlar baka ruhlarda


Tanyol / Christie

elik bir kutu bu bir kalp kadar sert ama amak mmkn gene de kimin eski szleriyle mhrlenmi kendi iinde bazi szler bazi arkilar olur uyandirir iimizdeki insani tam gz ucunda durur saatlerce akmamakta direnen o damla gibi

Jane Draycott A version of the first two sections of Pearl

The 14th-century dream-vision known as Pearl has enjoyed a somewhat narrower readership and a great deal less attention from translators than its sister poem from the same manuscript Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (British Museum MS Cotton Nero A. x). Widely interpreted as a devotional work of consolation on the death of an infant daughter, the poem is admired as much for the striking intricacy of its lexical and harmonic patterning as for its elegiac power, and the most recent and very vivid scholarly translation by Marie Borroff (W.W.Norton, 1999) skilfully re-animates that formal patterning in all its principal aspects. This version (from which the following two sections are the first of twenty) aims to move away from some of the strict regularity of the original towards a more fluid and echoing character, and is indebted to the invaluable interest and advice of Bernard ODonoghue and to the support of Arts Council South East.



1 One thing I know for certain: that she was peerless, pearl who would have added light to any princes life, however bright with gold. None could touch the way she shone in any light, so smooth, so small she was a jewel above all others. So pity me the day I lost her in this garden where she fell beneath the grass into the earth. I stand bereft, struck to the heart with love and loss. My spotless pearl. Ive gazed a hundred times at the place she left me, grieving for that gift which swept away all shadow, that face which was the antidote to sorrow. And though this watching sears my heart and winds the wires of sadness tighter, still the song this silence sings to me is the sweetest I have heard the countless quiet hours in which her pale face floats before me, mired in mud and soil, a perfect jewel spoiled, my spotless pearl.



In a place where such riches lie rotting what will grow is a spreading of spices, blossoms of blue and white and red which fire in the full light, facing the sun. Where a pearl is planted deep in the dark no fruit or flower could ever fade: all grasscorn grows from dying grain so new wheat can be carried home. From goodness other goodness grows so beautiful a seed cant fail to fruit, or spices fail to flower fed by a spotless, faultless pearl. So I came to this very same spot in the green of an August garden, height and heart of the summer, at Lammas when corn is cut down with curving scythes. And I saw that the little hill where she fell was a shaded place showered with spices: pink gillyflower, ginger and purple gromwell powdered with peonies scattered like stars. But more than their loveliness to the eye, the sweetest fragrance seemed to float in the air there also I knew beyond doubt thats where she lay, my spotless pearl.



I stood, caught in the chill grasp of grief in that place, clasping my hands there, seized by the grip on my heart of longing and loss. Though reason told me I should be still, I mourned for my poor imprisoned pearl with all the fury and force of a quarrel: the comfort of Christ called out to me but still I wrestled in wilful sorrow. The power and perfume of those flowers now filled my head and felled me, slipped me into sudden sleep on the spot where she lay beneath me. My girl. 2 In a while my spirit left the place where my body slept and dreamed below and by the grace of God began its journey to a landscape of marvels. Who knows where in the world it was, but I know there were cliffs that cleavered the sky and facing me a forest, studded with stones and rocks that seemed to the eye to be loaded with light, of a brightness beyond belief, a glitter like nothing Id ever encountered no human hand ever made a fabric half so finely arrayed.



All the hillsides around were adorned with cliffs formed from crystal, clear as morning, which towered over trees with trunks of a blue that was deeper and bluer than indigo, trees thick with shivering foliage that slid and shifted like high-polished silver or ice as sunlight fell through partings of cloud they shone and flared like shimmering foil. On the ground the gravel that peppered the paths was all precious pearls from the orient: even the sun seemed grey and spent beside such glittering adornment. At the sight of those hills arrayed in light the weight of grief lifted from me like air. A delicate fragrance of fruit drifted toward me, renewed me, filled me like food. In the forest, birds with feathers the colour of flame flew together the woodland rang with the beating wind-rush of their wings, and sweet-sounding harmony of their song. No instrument could imitate the miraculous music that they made: no one could ask for more whod heard it, or seen the adornment of those birds.



That landscapes rich array and the path through a forest where Fortune now led the way, were beautiful beyond telling, far past my powers of human speech to describe. As if transported, I walked without stopping no slope was too steep or hillside too high. The further I wandered into that wood the finer the fields and fruit trees seemed, the spices and hedgerows, meadows where streams ran steeply down in threads of gold, till I reached the curving shore of a river a river of, Lord! such shining adornment. What blazed most brightly were the banks, arrayed with beryl, a channel of light where echoing water circled and swirled, an eddying flood that seemed almost like words. The stream-bed also was bright with stones that glowed with the glint of sunlight through glass or the streaming of stars from deep in the sky in winter, when men of this world are asleep. Every pebble that lay in the lap of that pool was an emerald or sapphire, a storehouse of jewels, so the length of the river seemed lit from within adorned with such glitter and glistening.

The 19th International Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, 24 November 2007

An intriguing element of this years Aldeburgh Poetry Festival programme is that it features two poet/translators who translate one anothers poems. Jacques Rancourt and John F. Deane French-Canadian and Irish respectively will be reading both their own poems and their translations of each others work. They have also agreed to put their long-standing and unusually symbiotic relationship under scrutiny in Alter Ego / Ego Alter, a specially-convened Festival conversation. Theyll discuss what effect inhabiting someone elses poems enough to translate them has had on their individual writing; and disentangle the creative risks and rewards of this ongoing entente cordiale. This kind of event is a typical example of the way Aldeburgh has developed and diversified over the past few years. Still committed to its major readings, the Festival also capitalises on the particular interests of, and connections between, its unique line-up of poets. So as well as eight high quality readings each involving two, three or four poets this year the Festival offers another forty-two events (sixteen of them entirely free), a stimulating mix of craft talks, close readings, lectures, workshops, performances, interviews and conversations.



Thus Jacques Rancourt will also be in conversation with fellow participant Fiona Sampson about his international prose sculptures project and the connections between Poetry and Visual Art. The Life of the Poet is the focus of a richly cross-cultural discussion between Palestinian Taha Muhammad Ali, his American/Israeli translator Peter Cole, Anne Stevenson and Americas Gerald Stern. And John F. Deane and Peter Cole will share their wealth of knowledge and their different views on the subject of Poetry and Religion. Both Rancourt and Deane are part of the Festivals characteristically diverse gathering of thirty poets which will also feature Beverley Bie Brahic (French-Canadian), young Black British poet Jacob Sam-La Rose, Irelands Joseph Woods, and three outstanding Americans Louis Jenkins, Anne Marie Macari and Gerald Stern. Leading UK poets include Connie Bensley, Polly Clark, Alice Oswald, Christopher Reid, Peter Sansom and Anne Stevenson. And almost all of them will be reading at Aldeburgh for the first time. 19th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, 24 November 2007 Full details available from For a printed programme or further information: or 01986 835950

Poetry from Aldeburgh Three poems by Taha Muhammad Ali Translated by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi and Gabriel Levin

A charismatic personality and a writer of remarkable gifts, Taha Muhammad Ali has lived through the many stages of the IsraeliArab conflict, and his poetry emerges directly from the crucible of that tragedy. Muhammad Ali was born in 1931 in the Galilee village of Saffuriyya. During the ArabIsraeli war of 1948, he was forced to flee to Lebanon, together with most of the inhabitants of his village; a year later he slipped across the border with his family and, finding his village destroyed, settled in Nazareth, where he has lived ever since. An autodidact, he has supported himself for many years by selling souvenirs in his shop near the Church of the Annunciation. A late-comer to publication he was already in his fifties when he published his first volume of poems Muhammad Ali is now one of the leading poets on the contemporary Palestinian literary scene. He is the author of five books of poems in Arabic and a volume of short stories. An English selection of his work So What: New & Selected Poems, 19712005 was published to wide acclaim in the United



States and has just been released in the U.K. by Bloodaxe Books.

Lovers of hunting, and beginners seeking your prey: Dont aim your rifles at my happiness, which isnt worth the price of the bullet (youd waste on it). What seems to you so nimble and fine, like a fawn, and flees every which way, like a partridge, isnt happiness. Trust me: my happiness bears no relation to happiness.



The Bell at Forty: The Destruction of a Village

The past dozes beside me as the ringing does beneath its grandfather bell. And the bitterness follows me, as chicks trail after the mother hen. And the horizon . . . that eyelid tightly shut over the sands and blood what did it leave you? And, what hope does it hold?

Thrombosis in the Veins of Petroleum

When I was a child I fell into a pit but didnt die; I sank in a pond when I was young, but did not die; and now, God help us one of my habits is running into battalions of mines along the border, as my songs



and the days of my youth are dispersed: here a flower, there a scream; and yet, I do not die! They butchered me on the doorstep like a lamb for the feast thrombosis in the veins of petroleum. In Gods name they slit my throat from ear to ear a thousand times, and each time my dripping blood would swing back and forth like the feet of a man hanged from a gallows, and come to rest, a large, crimson mallow blossom a beacon to guide ships and mark the site of palaces and embassies.



And tomorrow, God help us the phone wont ring in a brothel or castle, and not in a single Gulf emirate, except to offer a new prescription for my extermination. But . . . just as the mallow tells us, and as the borders know, I wont die! I will not die! Ill linger on a piece of shrapnel the size of a penknife lodged in the neck; Ill remain a blood stain the size of a cloud on the shirt of this world!

Michael Hamburger Four Poems

Dark Solstice, 2006

Day after day no glint of the sun, Morning hoarfrost even leaden, No visible moon, not one star, The winter viburnums flushed white Unfragrant in dankness by day, by night. Against absence, against nature Put out food as ever, provide For the larger, the flimsiest, Pheasant, magpie, dove, Chaffinch to wren and goldcrest, The grey heron raptor too Should one fish survive in the pond. Believe still, while you can, In swallowtail, damselfly, bee, Night-moth, day-moth, ladybird, Green hairstreak revealed only once, A long dormant bats resurgence.



Names too human, enumerated? Shame forbids them in prayer Lest we assert once more What we pretend we know, What we pretend we need, What we pretend we are Who with wastage, with glut Oil the springs of rejoicing. If into namelessness All ever named must pass, May there be winged kinds to link Earth with water with air.

Winter Sun, East Suffolk

Rarer, briefer the rays More preciously shine, More widely through the stripped Bulk of deciduous trees. And the conifers, black, Come into their own As memorials of night Outlasting glints on leaves, Whether, cypress, straight up theyre urged Or sideways, yew, must amass.



Before clash of clouds, thunder, Downpour, darkening, Quickly a robin dips To the table strewn with seed, No vegetarian, snatches One protein mite from pheasants That staidly can feast, supreme; At risk, because fearless, innately Knows all he needs to know For so little a lifes fulfilment. This morning with ultramarine To scarlet the eastern sky warned Shepherds who long have lain Where hopes and fears are void, Their weather-wise ways defunct. Shifted by sundown, reversed Against black above, matt greys, Wisps of bleakness, brightness More amply those lucent hues fade Foretelling confusion to come.



Late Love
Of what use to the fierce art failing Were monkey glands transplanted? If passion it was he summoned First loves it must be, subsumed, Or else the last, the larger and lighter, For counterpoise more potent Than silly sublimation, Nature again still This urgent pull towards death, For counterpoint that silence. Mere fondness? Immanent as the sun unseen, The blunderers gifts unsexed. A vapour now, no thrust, Risen to form a cloud That shines and glooms, drifting, All a lifes waters in it, to dissolve: Glacier, then torrent, then tide, Then cisterned, puddled, bogged down; Unravel, too, the doom Once a masked ball could knot, Here a mock-springtime come Scarlet mask the cock pheasant puts on.



Contradiction, Counterpoint
As one it whizzes, the four-season wheel Towards its destination now, to crash, So fast his once responsive landmarks flash Past a strapped drivers slowed-down recognition. Pedestrian by nature, when not by choice Footslogging carrier of a rifle, kit, Still at that route march slowness could rejoice: Things out of bounds purloined, reserved in it, Though the condition made him less than one, Mere number there, subsumed, so more than one With luck, to be released, allowed to feel No matter how, where, when: war was transition . . . New speed detracts, leaving the real outrun If he sits motionless, Dashed, bumped from stress to stress. His lost companions are they luggers, trussed, Of their equipment yet? Or are they dust? While, time confounded, still I lurk in time Random as is times measure I will rhyme. For what? For timelessness That can make more of less. Whizzbang prevails, become the common lot, But the ground bass sustains a different plot Which, deaf, I hear, the players, listeners gone And in this lagging rhythm can trudge on.

Robert Walser Twelve Poems Translated by Michael Hamburger

[Michael Hamburger did these translations for a leaflet included in an ECM CD of Heinz Holligers settings of the poems. He was to have written an introduction, but died before he could. However, in a letter of 22 May 2007 he sketched out what he wanted to say; and rather than amplify those notes, we print them here. They say a good deal about Walser, who died in 1956 after three decades in confinement, and are characteristic of Michael.] All these poems are early ones, from the one book of poems that Walser published in his lifetime. The first, title poem of Holligers composition [in German: Beiseit], alone makes one think of Walsers later confinement in clinics and an asylum; but, though he wrote many more poems in later decades, he was wholly himself from the start . . . Walsers work was done on the periphery of literature, so had nothing to do with the various trends and modes of the time. Nor did he care whether he was a poet or writer of occasional verse. (For most of his readers he remained a writer of prose which couldnt be classified either.) I could also add something about Holligers


Walser / Hamburger

choice of these verses following on from his setting of Hlderlins late verse also mainly occasional his SCARDANELLI. (When asked in his asylum years whether he was still writing, Walser replied: Im here not to write but to be mad a very sane and sensible answer.)

1 Aside
I take my daily walk; this leads not far or wide and home; then without talk or sound Im put aside.

2 Snow
Its snowing, snowing, covers the earth all round with a heavy mound, so wide, so wide. So sorely it staggers down from the sky, this whirl all away, the snow, the snow. This gives you, oh, an enlargement, a rest, this world by whiteness oppressed makes me weak. So small at first, then great, my yearning turns to hot tears that invade me, burning.

Walser / Hamburger


3 Despondency
So very long I have waited for sweet tones and greetings, one happy sound. Now I despond: not a hum, no ringing, only mists drift away, and they abound. What in secret sang from a dark hiding-place, you, sadness, now sweeten my dragging pace.

4 As Ever
The lamp is still there, the table is also there, and I am in the room; and my longing, I fear, still sighs, as ever. Cowardice, are you still there? And, lie, you too? A dark yes I hear: misery is still there, in the room I persevere as ever.


Walser / Hamburger

5 Deception
Now weary hands again, now weary legs again, a darkness that will not lift. I laugh, so that the firm walls shift. But now Im lying, confess: Im weeping, nonetheless.

6 Too Philosophical
How ghostly in its sinking and rising is my life. To myself I see myself wave and vanish from the waver As laughter I see myself and then as deepest sadness, then as a wild weaver of words; yet all of it sinks, goes down. And surely at all times can never have been right. To roam forgotten spaces has always been my plight.

Walser / Hamburger


7 Evening
Yellow-black in the snow before me a path gleams and winds under trees. Its evening, and heavily colours moisten the air. The trees under which I walk have branches like childrens hands; they endlessly beseech, unspeakably dear, when the walker halts and stands. Distant gardens and hedges burn in the dark confusion, and a glowing sky, fear-frozen, sees the childrens hands stretch out.

8 On
I wanted to stop, stand still but was driven on and on, past trees that were all black, but under those black trees I wanted to stop, stand still, yet was driven on and on, past meadows that were green, but by those green meadows


Walser / Hamburger

I wanted only to stop, stand still, and was driven on and on, past hovels of the poor; at one of those poor hovels I wanted to stop all the same to contemplate its poverty and how its smoke so slowly curls to the sky, I long to stop for a long time here. I said all this and laughed, the green of the meadows laughed, the smoke rose smokily smiling, I was driven on and on.

9 Fear
I wish the houses would break loose and go for me. That would be frightening. I wish my heart would twist, my reason freeze. That would be frightening. Whats gruesomest of all I wish to press to me. I long for utmost fear, for agony.

Walser / Hamburger


10 And Went
Without a word he waved his hat and went, they say about the travelling man. It tore the leaves off every tree and went, they say about rude autumn. Smiling it shared out favours, grace and went, they say of majesty. By night it knocked upon the door and went, they say of heartfelt grief. Weeping he pointed at his heart and went, they say about the poor man.

11 Oppressive Light
Two trees rise bare in the snow, the heavens, weary of light, move homeward and here below only sadness meets my sight. And behind the trees there loom houses as high, as dark. Now something is said in the gloom, now dogs begin to bark.


Walser / Hamburger

Now the beloved, round lamp-moon lights up in the house. And now its going out, gapes like a wound. How little our lives are here and how vast the nothingness. The heavens, weary of light, to snow gave all they possess. The two tall trees incline their heads, as though to converse. Clouds drift through the stillness, dance through the universe.

12 In Moonlight
I thought when the night was deep that the stars must be singing, for, roused from my sleep, I heard a gentle ringing. But it was a little harp that pierced the walls of my room, and through the cold, the sharp night it rang out like doom. I thought of vain struggles, vain clinging, the prayer, the curse breathed away, and long I still heard the singing, long awake I lay.

Two Memorial Notes on Michael Hamburger

Anthony Rudolf
Michael Hamburger was born on March 22 (the date of Goethes death) and died on June 7 (the date of Hlderlins death). The passing of this fine poet and distinguished translator of, among others, the two greatest German poets before Rilke has prompted a version of the following note, which is to accompany the page of acknowledgments in the memoir Im working on. Michael was my German expert for many years, just as Hyam Maccoby was my Judaism and Bible expert. Hyam died before I started the book, and sadly I had to find a replacement, Howard Cooper, who has stepped into his shoes with distinction. I know other German experts John Felstiner, David Constantine, Inge Else Laird, Bill Jackson, Christopher Middleton who could and would serve as the official adviser, but it is a particular wrench to lose Michael, a friend for forty years. His death did not fully hit me when Dinah Livingstone phoned with the news, nor when I spoke to his wife Anne, nor when I was consulted on a couple of details by two broadsheet obituary pages. But it did hit me a few days later, when I had



a professional reason to phone him, namely to discuss the meaning of the word dichten: earlier that morning I had re-read the pages on Basil Bunting in Pounds ABC of Reading, in which BB is quoted as having discovered the equation dichten = condensare . . . while fumbling about in a GermanItalian dictionary. This, we are told, was Basils prime contribution to contemporary criticism. Dichten involves one word where English involves three: to compose poetry. The implied poetics underlying the equation condensare obviously meaning to condense or to compress was immediately influential and has remained so ever since. Something Isaac Rosenberg wrote in a letter (I know the quote off by heart) suddenly came to mind: I am determined that this war, with all its powers for devastation, shall not master my poeting; that is, if I am lucky enough to come through all right. He used the verb form . . . my poeting . . ., which could only have come from a non-existent verb to poet. Is it possible that, knowing Yiddish, which employs the same word dichten as in German, Rosenberg invented the verb in English, to poet being the one-word literal translation of dichten? I think I have made a discovery. A final gloss: Wittgenstein wrote somewhere that Philosophie drfte man eigentlich nur dichten: Philosophy ought to be composed like poetry or philosophy ought to be like poeting. Having recently published a book by Christopher Middleton, I decided to run this past him. He happens to be in Europe at the moment, making it easier to reach him on the phone because of the time difference than at home in Austin Texas. He came up with an improvement: philosophising should be like writing poems. He also confirmed ones suspicion that the Italian lexicographer, very conveniently for Buntings standing as a critic in the eyes of the Gaffer, was perpetrating a false etymology, whether deliberately or not. I once wrote that if Donald Davie was the exemplary poet-critic and Jon Silkin the exemplary poet-editor, then



Michael was the exemplary poet-translator. He was the role model for many of us. What is more, he remained a socialist and a radical to the end, and was one of the few people I could speak frankly to about my fears that nuclear or climate apocalypse will arrive sooner rather than later, for he shared them one hundred per cent. Nearly forty years ago, the very first Menard Press publication saw the light of day, misprints and all: the Michael Hamburger issue of The Journals of Pierre Menard. Later, he wrote introductions to two Menard books: With All Five Senses by Hans Cohn translated by Frederick Cohn and Nervals Les Chimres translated by William Stone. Coda: re-reading Geoffrey Hills Pindarics (after Cesare Pavese) in Without Title, I yearn to phone Michael for a chat about Hlderlin and Pindar. But, instead, I shall be going to Suffolk tomorrow to attend and participate in Michaels funeral in the village church of Middleton (think Saxmundham, not Christopher). I am to recite the traditional Jewish burial prayers, Kaddish (the sanctification of God and life) and El Moleh Rachamim (the prayer for the dead).

Iain Galbraith Between Day and Night

Suddenly it seems too soon to be writing about this man from whom I have learned so much. Close to my window grows an apple-tree. After this summers loopy pendulum of downpour and sunshine its reddening fruit is almost ripe for the picking. Once I took two plastic bags bulging with Marsh Acres apples Michael had given me on the plane back to Germany species I would never find in any supermarket, several with names I had never heard. To have grown to know Michael over the decades, glimpsing the complex, contradictory shape he made in the world, was always to have too much to say to him, about him or, not quite a contrary, so much that will not be



said: unfinished business, bringing us together and setting us apart, whose unravelling will tell me as much about myself as of the man who has gone before. Michael the poet, Michael the essayist, Michael the translator. Michael in the early days as a reluctant academic. Michael in the early afternoon watching snooker on the telly. It has always been easier to write of the parts than account for the whole. So to the man of letters I would have written a letter today about my ripening apples and should probably have received a reply by return of post, as his countless correspondents always did. For this most prolific of letter-writers (loyal in the age of e-mail to his ancient, page-perforating typewriter) would let nothing and nobody come between. Even that most august of visitors was required to wait until the days correspondence was dealt with: Michaels final replies were posted on the day of his death. His letter would have told me with characteristic emphasis of his own fruit, and his own predicaments: What is not clear to me is how, if this crisis goes on, I shall manage the harvest this year. But a hard partition has come between us now. To use the past tense for the first time demanded a surprising strand in the tangle cruelty. (I know deaths always call for severance, and always forget.) Michael the friend. And from a distance: Michael the family man. For a short moment after the funeral, before repairs to a window, before the quotidian, relentless and severe, washed away its contours, something suggesting a whole life did appear: the desk (not, however, the one brought from the Berlin of his childhood) with its letters still piled in the order in which they had arrived, the relevant files ranged along his bay window handy for reference at a moments notice, the afternoon light on his trees, family foregathered, friends, the order of a work in progress instantly complete. Apples! The forbidden fruit had become the butt of jokes in the Hamburger household, nay, of curses (maladiction apple-speak, a Latin pun Michael might have enjoyed). Full



and frank features had appeared in German and British newspapers presenting Michael primarily as a grower of rare apples, an eccentric recluse who wrote poems on the side. In films, too, that were sensitive and unintrusive, his apples glowed with a wild, subaqueous, and oddly indeterminate intensity. The joke though the laughter was thickening to choke on was that phrases like grower of mainly obsolete apple varieties had begun to replace the grisly epithet better known as a translator as a signal that Michaels poems might be sidelined, subordinated, receiving shorter shrift than they deserved. For it was in poems that he knew he had not come apart. Here still again and again he made a whole. The whole was the missing link. He so rarely felt the aesthetic and moral seriousness of his project was met with any equivalent seriousness of response. Rarely in Britain, anyway (where he could no longer rely on his new books attracting a single review). This was a source of desperation a source too of his Moralities (he might as easily have called them Frustrations): polemics and invectives that formed the satiric, fraying fringe of his poetic core. The cultural infra-structure for the production of serious responses of the kind he needed had been maimed, as he saw it, by pseudo-democratic and commercial concerns to which he could not adapt, and he would rail against a lack of human decency on all sides. He saw much of his own lifes work, in consequence, as an anachronism. Of his critical work as a mediator of German and European literature, Reason and Energy or The Truth of Poetry, for example, he wrote that he had hoped to address not an academic community but the common or general reader, even while he knew that any general reading public was already beginning to dwindle away, even in the 1950s. Yet his own life and work interrogated arbitrary categories of time and place. He was deeply serious when he saw the silent boy who had left Berlin in 1933 and the old man with an antiquated Oxford drawl German and Englishman, translator and poet as one.



Anachronism (of a kind he meant) and utopia were at the heart of his poetics. I first met Michaels work in a Cambridge lecture room in 1975. Leonard Forster, Michaels head of department at UCL in the 1950s, whom Michael later considered to have been quite justified in weeding him out as lacking in scholarly mettle (refusing to grant him tenure when his probationary period had come to an end), had long since made it up with Michael and was now, twenty years on, handing out Michaels Hlderlin translations to nonplussed first-year students of German. This was one of those moments when one feels an alter ego the world of before, when one had lived in ignorance of a prospect now dawning palpably peeling away. It wasnt so much the translations that astonished me, it was the very fact and mystery of their existence, the notion that a person with a gift for it could become that kind of medium for the subtlest modulation of voices across the languages, cultures and centuries: an anachronist. It took me years to realise that this was no more a quality of translation than of poetry. The poet-translators negative capability, a loss of self which he saw at the opposite end of the scale from appropriation of a foreign poets work, was a key to the mimetic that governed Michaels translations. But was Hlderlins long breath, his encapsulating syntax overflowing structures permitting the cumulative weaving of an idea or image over several lines or stanzas the explanation, as Michael had come to think of it, for the syntactic sinuosity of his own longer poems like Travelling, In Suffolk and Late? Or had Hlderlins arching hypotaxis become a bridge to something more fragile and lost to me in every other regard, a dimension between Day and Night (Hlderlin) the missing link with a wholeness Michael had lost since his native language had been overlaid by English? It took four years after Leonard Forsters introduction to Michael the translator for me to find Michael the poet. The phenomenon of Michaels syntax, at once intensely strange and



strangely familiar, struck me as soon as I read his work. At the time I had come to live in London, and German was fresh in my ear as, for the first time, country boy that I was, I began to explore the big city. It was the year when the house-high sycamore, long ago wrenched from the garden of the bombdamaged, dilapidated and finally demolished house in St Johns Wood Park where Michael grew up, had been rediscovered alive thanks to a dimension that defies the minds mastery in an elegiac passage of Michaels long poem In Suffolk: Sycamore: here and there still / In its own time, straight, / With wide branches, it rises / And the shed leaves feed / Rich or poor soil, unpoisoned . . . There is just a hint of the German-Greek distich in the last three of these lines, at least if you make a hexameter of lines three and four, possibly suggested too by the dactylic sycamore, although it is the unexpected word and, following rises, that reminds me of Hlderlin. This sentence in which the sycamores growth and renewal incorporates tenure in natural time, outside the money-time man supposedly masters arises, spreads its branches and foliates through sixteen lines, its ramifications reclaiming its own space line by line, clause by clause, in poetrys between-time. I remember Michael taking a tiny frog from my eight-year old daughters hand and returning it to the marsh for left where it was it would soon have dried up and died. And in his last letter, which arrived several days after his death, he again warned me not to overwork. He who had worked too hard in his younger days and knew it could desiccate the soul and so easily spoil more than one persons happiness and health. The ramifications of that, too, lie unuttered between the lines.


Don Paterson Orpheus: A version of Rilkes Die Sonette an Orpheus Faber 12.99 Rainer Maria Rilke Duino Elegies Translated by Martyn Crucefix, introduction by Karen Leeder Enitharmon 9.95 Probably no other twentieth-century collections of poetry have been translated into English more often than these two cycles; Amazon can currently find you at least twenty-one versions of the Duino Elegies and fifteen of the Sonnets to Orpheus. Something of their aura comes from the myth-like circumstances of their composition: the first elegies taken down from a voice in the wind at Castle Duino in 1912 and followed in the next few days by the first lines of the final poem. The long interim of the war followed and frustrated Rilkes attempts to find a place and the composure to finish them. After moving to Switzerland in 1919, he spent years looking for the elegy-place. Helped by many friends, he found



Muzot late in 1921; with a housekeeper who spoke only when spoken to and no dog to distract him, he stepped up to his specially built standing-desk and composed not the Elegies but twenty-six poems of the Sonnets, all but a handful written in four days. They were followed immediately by the missing Elegies, and then completed by the twenty-nine poems of the second part of the Sonnets, both works concluded, as Don Paterson notes, in the preposterously brief period of about three weeks. Rilke later called the Sonnets the most enigmatic dictation he had ever withstood but added that not one of them eludes the understanding in context. At first he regarded the Sonnets as a short-circuiting of the current that bore the Elegies upon him; even late in 1925, he was referring to the little rust-coloured sail of the Sonnets and the vast white sail-cloth of the Elegies that he had been allowed to fill with one breath. And despite their popularity, they have often been viewed as secondary to the Elegies, perhaps only lately considered Rilkes best work. Certainly they struck out in a new direction. The labour of completing the Elegies was to get back to pre-war 1912, an act of salvage and recuperation, whereas the Sonnets were, as he said, totally unexpected, an unasked-for gift. Both cycles appeared in 1923 (the Sonnets a few months earlier), the same year as Wallace Stevenss Harmonium, hard on the heels of The Waste Land, Ulysses and, much more importantly for Rilke, Valrys Charmes ou pomes, which he was translating. If Rilke had written in English, he might have sounded a bit like Stevens, though more the Stevens of Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction than Harmonium. To bring him, or anyone, across into another tongue is to make him (almost) other. So the question of translation is how to negotiate the necessary gap, the shift that occurs as the original is transformed. Patersons answer is to emphasise this shift: Morning Prayer, from Nil Nil, is a version of Rimbauds Oraison du soir, while in Landing Light, Dante is put into quatrains, and the breast of Rilkes Archaic Torso of Apollo becomes a double axe rather



than just curving. In The Eyes, a version of Antonio Machado, Paterson felt free to mistranslate deliberately, conflating different poems, inserting whole new lines and on a few occasions writing entirely new poems (so he says), in order to make a musical and argumentative unity of the material at hand. Orpheus also does much to detach and distinguish itself from the original, beginning with the title and the relegation of Rilkes authorship and continuing with the barbarous (Patersons word) removal of the dedication to the dancer Wera Ouckama Knoop (though he gives it back to us in the Afterword), alongside the replacing of the original numbers by titles, and the omission of Rilkes few notes. If The Eyes was a medley of bits and pieces of Machado arranged wilfully (alphabetically by title) and selectively, in Orpheus, Paterson takes on a whole collection, a commitment for any translator. There are bound to be poems he understands less well or has less sympathy with, but the overall architecture of the cycle requires that he find a way. (In his eccentric but fascinating Afterword more for what it tells us of Paterson than of Rilke Paterson risks the thought that there might be fifty-five sonnets for numerological reasons to do with the golden section and the sonnet form, and he may be right.) Once we get beyond the more or less cosmetic alterations listed above (though the small mnemonic handle each poem acquires with its title is a more profound change), we find ourselves recognizably in Rilkes poetic domain: Orpheus sings: O tall oak in the ear! The collection is still in two parts, for instance, and most of the sonnets keep as close to the lexical meaning of the originals as we can expect from a rhymed version. Nevertheless, in his appendix, Fourteen Notes on the Version, Paterson insists on making a sharp distinction between a translation and a version. In an argument begun in The Eyes, he says we must be prepared to make a choice between honouring the word or the spirit, claiming a translation does the former while a version does the latter. This



distinction seems to go against the reflections of the Afterword all we can have of the spirit of a poem is in its words, as Paterson well knows and puts much better in one of his aphorisms from The Book of Shadows: the poems incarnation in its tongue is all there is of it, as a painting is in its paint. There is no alternative to attending to the word, whether translating or versioning, and even the most basic kind of crib (which is what Paterson reduces translation to) will, in respecting the lexical, literal meaning of the words, inevitably open towards something more mysterious, to the relations between them, to the oddness of their diction, the movement of their syntax. In fact, as Paterson claims, there is often a lot of poetry in a literal version. In the happiest cases, there can be a kind of coincidence, or at least an illusion of it, so that such mechanical poetry corresponds closely to what makes the poem a poem in the original. It is true that this is more likely to happen with odd lines than with whole poems, but that doesnt mean we need to jettison the whole idea of translation in favour of the version. There is no sharp distinction between them, and good translation has always employed some of the strategies Paterson ascribes to versions, just as good versions have always concerned themselves with preoccupations he regards as proper to translation. If a translation does not work in its own tongue, as the original worked (but differently) in its, then it has failed; it has only conveyed a ghost or a corpse, a lifeless rather than a transmuted form, and the same is true of a version. Patersons insistence on the version amounts to a plea that we do not read his poems against the originals, and to an insurance policy if we disregard that plea. Nevertheless, what he says here is of interest, especially when it comes to Rilke. For example, Paterson notes that the original Sonette an Orpheus have occasional imperfections due to the breakneck rapidity of their arrival (I wish hed told us what they were), and that these cannot be honestly versioned because such versions need their own pattern of error and lyric felicity. If a translation is to be more than a crib, it needs to be a poem in its own right, as has



always been the case and the main reason that most translations fail. But to insist that these versions are not translations is a bit like saying the Sonette arent sonnets (which has been done before). How well does Paterson know Rilkes tongue? He is rather coy about this. At one point he seems about to tell us, but slips into the general statement that he can read a very little of a few languages without even saying whether he considers German to be one of them. In an interview in Magma (Winter 2004/05) he says he used all translations of Rilke to work from, without mentioning the original. However, from the evidence of Orpheus itself, it seems clear that he has been looking at it closely, coming up with things it is hard to see emerging through another version or even from the multiple bearings the different translations allow. In this question too he tends towards extremes, suggesting that not knowing the language might be preferable to acquiring it (citing J. B. Leishman as an example of what knowledge can do for you), and pointing towards bilingual poets such as Michael Hofmann and George Szirtes as the only real alternative to ignorance. Criticising Leishmans version-like translation (as Paterson would have it) for inaccuracy is unfair since he corrected his mistakes in his second edition. And we must also question whether Patersons translation-like version of the same poem doesnt get it differently wrong. In The Sarcophagi in Rome he gives the tombs in the first quartet heavy lids. Yet Rilkes sarcophagi here are open ones with water flowing through them (he had written about them before in the New Poems). Paterson makes the streams figurative, of dreams beneath eyelids, and so connects forward to the second quartet where, in Rilke too, unlidded tombs are imagined as open eyes. But in Rilkes poem, as his note to it makes plain, these second tombs are different from the first, not in Rome but in Arles. It seems a pity to lose the image, obviously important to Rilke, of living waters running through mortuary stone, with its resonance in the rest of the cycle of Orpheuss double realm



and as an emblem of animate form. It is an interesting case: Patersons poem is lovely and coherent in itself, but seems to have gone further than it needed to find its own course. In fact, The Sarcophagi in Rome, in its first half at least, is more of an imitation in Robert Lowells sense than practically any other poem in the book, taking the original more as a point of departure than as a detailed ground plan and elevation for its vernacular architecture, as Paterson defines the work of the version. But none of this matters much, because Paterson has written a beautiful book. Rilkes poems have never been brought across as convincingly; next to Patersons, other versions lack a life of their own. Unlike Patersons, however, many are published with parallel text, so are perhaps not seeking the kind of self-sufficiency he wants. But its doubtful they thus serve Rilke better, particularly as Paterson manages to keep pretty close to the surface sense while letting his poems make their own coherence. Take the last line of the first sonnet, crucial because it opens up the Orphic space of the collection. Paterson has: today the temple rises in their hearing. The line literally means something like there [or then] you created temples for them in the hearing (da schufst du ihnen Tempel im Gehr). Gehr is much more concrete than English hearing. Patersons line is wonderfully clean and clear compared to Leishmans (you built them temples in their sense of sound) or Stephen Cohns (you built them their own Temples of the Ear!). Stephen Mitchell has you built a temple deep inside their hearing, and Edward Snow, whose versions Paterson acknowledges for their clarity, you built temples for them in their hearing. Patersons use of rises in the middle of his line is a crucial improvement, capturing the active, becoming sense of schufst in a way built cannot, as its energy pushes on into in their hearing, making a space of it by filling it. Here, the temple is built, and rebuilt at each reading. An important aspect of the original Rilke is its provisional, on-the-wing feel. The poems grow out of one another, they



have a tautness and sense of pace that is like a memory of their making, recycling motifs in different permutations and seemingly inventing themselves as they go along. Perhaps the best thing about Patersons version is the way he conveys this. Rilkes rhymes, if sometimes risky (Banane / Ich ahne), are always full, whereas Paterson mostly uses varieties of halfrhyme. No doubt this is closer to his usual practice, helping to make a rhymed version that works, but it also suggests the improvised nature of the original, the tenuously delicate action of the Sonette. This is also achieved by a conversational tone, also present in Rilke. For instance, in The Gods (I, 24), we never set / our paths as sweet meanders; we lay them straight, follows exactly the words though not the lineation of the German, but is altogether more familiar, off-hand, idly but aptly spoken where the German (schne Mander) sounds more formal. Horseman (I, 11) ends And maybe thats enough, more sceptical than the certainty of the German. Patersons great virtue, as in his own poetry, is plainness and clarity, a purity of diction. In The Double Realm (I, 6) there is an odd shift out of the contemporary. Where Rilke simply talks of going to bed, Paterson has: When you pinch the candles, never leave the bread / or milk out on the table; the famished shades / are drawn by them. Bed would have interfered with bread, whereas pinch the candles not only fits the deft, quick, neat gesture it evokes but also picks out the famished shades in the following line. This deftness and confidence, alongside Patersons subtle sense of contemporizing, illustrates what is good about this translation, the intimacy of knowledge and word it possesses. Most of Patersons divergences are successful in this way. Only occasionally does he complicate in an unconvincing way, as in the last tercet of The Real (II, 10): Before the beyond-words, words scatter like straw. And music still quarries its purposeless space for the vibrant rock, to build its holy place.



Whereas Rilkes music just builds in a resonant unbroken line, here it is made to do two things (quarry and build), with a hiatus between them, which seems to prevent the last line from doing what it says. Sometimes it is the other way round, with a simplification of a complex thought, strikingly so in the last poem, as Rilkes difficult injunction if you find drinking bitter, become wine is reduced by being rendered if the waters sour, turn it into wine, which feels like an evasion. But there is more of what is essential to Rilke in these versions than in any other: they open the poems out into a sharp-edged, attentive, precisely tuned English, which is a transmutation, not a betrayal, of the softer, more obscure music of the originals. Martyn Crucefixs new versions of the Elegies do not stand out in the same way but they offer a mostly accurate reading. With a parallel German text, they ask less to be taken on their own terms. Instead of a general commentary on his translation, Crucefix supplies a paraphrasing commentary on each poem. Perhaps the main difficulty with translating the Elegies is accommodating the sustained grandness of their manner, especially nowadays, when the possibility of equivalence to it, as exploited in Leishman and Stephen Spenders famous version, seems to have become unavailable. Crucefix tries to tone it down, then let moments of it slip through, which seems a sensible course. It sometimes works, as at the beginning of the Sixth: Fig tree, how long has it been important to me the way you almost wholly skip blossoming and press pure mystery quite unheralded into early-setting fruit. More often though, he cannot avoid sounding irredeemably peculiar, as when the angels are said to be occupied in the whirling / reinvigoration of themselves (Second Elegy) or when (in the Ninth) the Tun ohne Bild (action without form)



that characterizes modernity for Rilke is described as Acts beneath encrustrations / that burst easily the moment the innards / seek out new boundaries for themselves. There are also often inexplicable deviations or amplifications that, unlike in Paterson, hardly bring us closer to the German or do anything for the English. A translation is sometimes obliged to clarify, but whereas Paterson does this with a quick, sure touch, Crucefix tends to elucidate too much. But such problems beset most versions of the Elegies in English, and there are enough moments of successful transposition to make his translation useful if not indispensable. In her introduction Karen Leeder speaks of the Elegies as reiterating the uniqueness of the here and now despite indeed precisely because of its fragility. At the end of his Afterword, Paterson declares the word Earth which he has already brought to our attention in his versions by giving it a capital letter and sometimes including it where the original doesnt the Sonnets heartbeat. Perhaps Rilkes popularity today stems from the ecological anxiety in his work. Paterson has effectively turned the Orpheus myth, already made a perfect alibi in The Landing from Landing Light, into a myth of the Earth, as at the end of The Trace (I, 26), where the word appears in place of nature: O lost god, you eternal trace! Only through your final scattering could we be true and hear the Earth, to sing of what she sings. Charlie Louth



Susan Bassnett and Peter Bush (eds) The Translator as Writer Continuum ISBN 0-8264-9995-5-2 pb 240pp, 25 Beware: any text endorsed by Susan Bassnett well known for her influential Translation Studies will shake you out of a rut. Here, with Peter Bush, she has provided a mind-bending engagement with various languages, cultures, translations, theories and personal perspectives, allowing us into the souls of translators variously eccentric, universally passionate, intimate and open with their readers as they pass on anecdotes, practical tips and hints and, most importantly, the particular vision they have for each text they are working on. Their enthusiasm is infectious. The essays all provide a healthy mix of summer reading and research, whether their eighteen writers are employed as academics or professional translators (or both). The tales are engaging because these translators are creative writers and the research is thorough out of respect for the text. Thus, we have Anthea Bell telling us she wasnt really qualified to translate but just needed to get at the books while John Rutherford provides a mouth-watering description of the idyllic spot in Galicia which got him out of his translators block over Don Quixote. Juan Gabriel Lpez Guix wins the prize for eccentricity with his hilarious Mad Hatters tea party held for the forty-plus translators of Alice in Wonderland to mull over selected extracts. Meanwhile, Jakob Kendas career in childrens literature was apparently inspired by professor Kodres fine translations of the dreadful Vogan poetry of A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy drankle me with crinkley bindlewurdle into Slovenian. The book is certainly wide-ranging: Bill Findlay tracks the decline of vernacular Scots theatre and how it has impacted on the use of authentic Scots vernacular for translation; Lakshmi



Holmstrm provides a superb survey of the minefield of translation and translation theory in India where so much Indian literature has been translated into English for an internal audience, with the inevitable marginalizing of the various dialects, particularly those of the untouchables; the Czech translator Jr Josek explores the constant reinvention of Shakespeare through endless translations; Susan Bassnett outlines the historic importance translation has always had for poets and considers why respect for translation has declined; Josephine Balmer shows how central scholarship is in enabling the classical translator literally to reconstruct translation from mere fragments and Michael Hanne offers a well-referenced essay on the use of metaphor in translation. Interwoven throughout the book are also wide-ranging views about translation borne variously out of practice and/or theory. Kenda is particularly amusing when he describes his annoyance at theoreticians who express views he has already reached independently: Nida was not only talking about ideas which I had to work rather hard for. He, like Steiner, even used my words. The books most radical theoretician is Clive Scott, who takes us through some wonderful intellectual gymnastics as we are required to see things three- (or even four-) dimensionally, with translation as process rather than product, even if it is difficult to switch off the habit of reading poems as fixed. A further real strength in the book is the illustrations of work in progress such as in, say, Peter Bushs and John Rutherfords essays. Anna Patersons examples of her work on Kerstin Ekmans nature description are absolute gems, describing a forest world that is ominous and threatening: The forest flowered on heedlessly, long after the namers had been silenced, roots twisting through their gaping mouths; it flowered, known and named only by those who hummed and clicked and twittered, filled by the rustle of wings and rattle of claws and thuds of antlers against the tree trunks.



There are more essays on prose than poetry: Bassnett and Balmers engagement with their texts, however, are distinctly different from that of the prose translators (with the possible exception of Carol Maiers essay on how ones bodys engages with ones source text). Bassnett, for example, shows how her own poetry stemmed from a powerful bond with the Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik whom she was translating. The prose writers may have provided much of the wit and fun in the book but it is Balmer who takes us to the dark side. With a powerful discussion and a harrowing working-through of emotions, she details how she dealt with the loss of a niece through cancer, approaching it obliquely through translation in a way that is both painful and moving. She does this by way of a fairly faithful version of a passage from De Raptu Proserpinae by the little known Roman poet Claudian, here amended by her own new subtitle: 2/8/:6.47AM . . . but now our soft meadows bruised, rivers stopped mid-flow, fields rusted like forgotten ploughs. To breathe was suicide: trees drained of green, roses shed their petals, lilies shrivelled before our eyes. And then He turned away, swinging round the reins like the gates of Hell grating to a close. Night scuttled after as the light seeped back into our black world everywhere was light sun and sky and light and your small daughter nowhere to be seen. The translators in this book give so much of themselves and their work it isnt possible to do it justice in a single review, but it does come with a health warning it is almost certain to impact on both your writing and reading habits. So now its off to Waterstones to grab a copy of Teach Yourself Chinese to make



a start on poetry, then on to the Siberian wastes to produce that definitive version of War and Peace . . . Belinda Cooke

Shorter Reviews: Classic French and German Works

Paul Celan Snow Part/Schneepart translated by Ian Fairley, Carcanet, 195pp, paperback, 14.95, ISBN 978-1-85754944-7; Poems of Paul Celan, translated by Michael Hamburger, Anvil, 432pp, hardback, 25, ISBN 978-0-85646-399-0 Two volumes dedicated to the work of the influential twentieth-century German-Jewish poet: Ian Fairleys translation of Schneepart is the first English version of Celans bold collection, written amidst the turmoil of Europe in 1968, and published in 1971, a year after the poets death. Fairleys stark, striking versions admirably capture Celans dense poetic experimentations (TO THE ORDER OF THE NIGHT Over-/ridden, Over-/slidden, Over-/swithined) and form a companion volume to his acclaimed 2001 translation of Celan, Fathomsuns and Benighted. Poems from Schneepart also appear in Anvils new, third edition of Michael Hamburgers selected translations of Celan, published shortly before Hamburgers death earlier this year. This is a beautiful volume with Hamburgers precise, crystal-clear versions even more remarkable given his claim in the Preface to this new edition that merely correcting its proofs was to revisit a battlefield, retrace my struggle over decades with texts that were a tug-of-war between life and death. We can only be grateful that he did.


Shorter Reviews

Paul Eluard Last Love Poems of Paul Eluard, translated by Marilyn Kallet, 165pp, $17.95, ISBN 978-0-9768449-3-8; Capital of Pain, translated by Mary Ann Caws, Patricia Terry & Nancy Kline, 279pp, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-8449-6-9; Love, Poetry, translated by Stuart Kendall, 205pp, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-9768449-7-6 (all paperback, all Black Widow Press). The latest editions from Boston publisher Black Widow Press offer new editions of the early-twentieth-century French Surrealist poet, including Stuart Kendalls Love, Poetry, the first English version of Eluards 1929 collection Lamour la posie, dedicated to his Russian first wife, Gala (I looked for you beyond waiting/beyond myself/and I love so much that I no longer know/which of us is absent.). As Kendall recounts in his excellent introduction, a few months after completing the volume and after Gala had left him for Max Ernst (she later married Salvador Dali), Eluard fell in love with Maria Benz (Nusch), the subject of Last Love Poems (we are body to body we are earth to earth/We are born of everywhere we are without limits). As ever, these are all high-quality publications, with excellent translations and accompanying essays from leading practitioners of their art. Soleman Adel Gumar, State of Emergency, translated by Tom Cheesman & John Goodby, introduced by Lisa Appignanesi, Arc,166pp, paperback, 9.99, ISBN 978-1-904614-39-5 Algerian political exile Gumar, now living in Wales, might be a new name in French poetry but, as Lisa Appignanesi states in her introduction to this important work, Britain has inadvertently inherited a political poet of stature, one whose language sings. Awarded a recent English PEN Writers in Translation Award, this is at once a disturbing and deeply moving volume, charting brutal state violence in Gumars homeland as he adopts many different voices and personae the imprisoned, the abused and those bereaved by terror (we were scattered into torment/my hand held your/mangled hand/and I ran through the streets of Algiers/to hug you in my

Shorter Reviews


arms/ one last time as Moonlight records). Urgent and unmissable. (For a sample of his work and a word about him, see MPT 3/2 and 3/6.) Rainer Maria Rilke, A Reconsideration, Agenda 42.3-3, 288pp, paperback, 15 ISBN 978-0-902400-83-2 With the publication of both Don Paterson and Martyn Crucefixs new versions of his poetry (see Charlie Louths review above), Rilke is much in demand at present. Agendas latest issue, which might well be sub-titled Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Rilke, is as vital as ever, offering a definitive introduction to the poet with new translations, versions, reviews and essays by leading translators and commentators including Michael Hamburger, Stephen Cohn, Sean OBrien, and Clive Wilmer as well as Martyn Crucefix and Charlie Louth. There are also translations of essays about Rilke by Yves Bonnefoy (Kieran Higgins), Jean Cassou (Timothy Ads) and Philippe Jaccottet (Judith Bishop), alongside Poems To, On or For Rilke by John Burnside, Peter Robinson and W.S. Milne, amongst others. Indispensable. Arthur Rimbaud. A Season in Hell, translated by Donald Revell, Omnidawn, 104pp, paperback, $14.95, ISBN 978-1890650-30-8 Rimbauds poetry is notoriously tricky to translate and his apparently last work, the revolutionary prose-poem, A Season In Hell, is more difficult than most. Fortunately the American poet and translator Donald Revell, twice winner of a PEN Centre USA award for poetry and an acclaimed translator of Apollinaire, is up to the task, capturing Rimbauds (probably opium-induced) nightmarish visions. His unconventional translators Afterword, also makes compelling reading (We do not forget; you are the glory of ages. We have faith in poison. We know very well how to waste our lives.) though some more


Shorter Reviews

traditional apparatus such as biographical details would also have been welcome. Nevertheless, a fine edition from Californias Omnidawn. A.N. Stencl, All My Young Years: Yiddish Poetry from Weimar Germany, translated by Haike Beruriah Wiegand & Stephen Watts, with an introduction by Heather Valencia, Five Leaves Publications, 120pp, paperback, 7.99, ISBN 978-1-90551223-2 Like Gumar, Stencl is hardly a household name but this is still an important book, celebrating a lost culture, a lost time when Berlin was the centre of Yiddish culture, as well as a lost poet. Born in Poland, Stencl arrived in Berlin in 1921 where he became part of a group of Yiddish artists and writers centred on the Romanische Caf and soon gained a considerable reputation, admired by Thomas Mann and Arnold Zweig, amongst others. In 1936, he fled Berlin for Londons Whitechapel, where he died in 1983, editing the Yiddish literary journal Loshn un lebn (Language and Life) until the end. All My Young Years concentrates on the expressionist and pastoral poetry he wrote in Berlin, with an excellent biographical essay from Heather Valencia, translators notes and memoirs of the poet collected from those who knew him (I loved [Germany] and I walked and talked with philosophers and poets of all faith. Then came Hitler with his storm and hatred . . .). Five Leaves are to be congratulated on a compelling volume. Georg Trakl, Poems, translated by Margitt Lehbert, Anvil, 192pp, paperback, 9.95, ISBN 978-0-85646-285-6 Following in the wake of Will Stones 2005 translations for Arc, Anvil now publish Margitt Lehberts complete new versions of Austrian poet Georg Trakls expressionist poems, his footsteps through a fog of blood. A haunting collection, beautifully produced by Anvil.

Shorter Reviews


Paul Valry Charms, translated by Peter Dale, Anvil, 192pp, paperback, 11.95, ISBN 978-0-85646-398-3 Like Rimbaud, Valry, too, can be treacherous territory for the translator; formal versions can sound forced, while free versions can threaten to overwhelm the originals intricacies. When it comes to rhymed and metrical translations, Peter Dale, as ever, is a very safe pair of hands. His new bi-lingual edition of Valrys Charmes offers his usual skill and delicacy, which, alongside Anvils usual high-quality production, make this volume a delight. Over the Water: Poems from French and German, Camden Mews Translators, Hearing Eye, 6.92pp, paperback, ISBN: 1-9050822-8-2 A volume of versions of classic French or German verse, including poems by Celan, Rilke and Trakl, translated by a small group of translators and poets from south-east England, including Ruth Ingram, Polly Clarke and Judy Gahagan, who meet four times a year in London to work together on their translations. The result is this bi-lingual edition with full bibliographical notes on each poet (although details of the translators themselves would also have been welcome) which stands as a testament to their commitment. Josephine Balmer Books for review should be sent to Josephine Balmer, Reviews Editor, Modern Poetry in Translation, East Meon, St Johns Road, Crowborough, East Sussex. UK. TN6 1RW. The theme for the next round-up will be classical translations.

Notes on Contributors

Moniza Alvi ran a poetry group in a mental health setting for three years. Her most recent collection is How the Stone Found Its Voice, Bloodaxe 2005. A new book Europa is forthcoming from Bloodaxe in 2008, along with Split World, her collected poems 1990-2005. Annemarie Austin is the author of five poetry collections, four of them published by Bloodaxe. Very: New and Selected Poems is due out early in 2008. She has worked in book publishing, further education and for the Open University, and is now a volunteer with a dysphasia support group. Ruth Christie is a freelance translator from Turkish. Recent publications include In the Temple of a Patient God by Bejan Matur, and, in collaboration with Richard McKane, Beyond the Walls, poems by Nazim Hikmet, and Voices of Memory, poems of Oktay Rifat (a larger selection of whose poems is about to be published). Peter Coles most recent book, The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 9501492, was recently published by Princeton University Press. A new collection of poems, Things on Which Ive Stumbled, is forthcoming from New Directions. He lives in Jerusalem, where he co-edits Ibis Editions. Belinda Cookes poetry, reviews and Russian translations have been published widely. She is currently completing an edition of The Selected Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva. She lives in Aberdeenshire.

Notes on Contributors


Margaret Jull Costa has been a translator of Spanish and Portuguese for over twenty years, translating writers such as Ramn del Valle-Incln, Javier Maras, Jos Saramago, Ea de Queiroz and Fernando Pessoa. Her translation of Bernardo Atxagas latest novel, The Accordionists Son will be published in October 2007 by Harvill Secker. Anna Crowe is a co-founder and former Artistic Director of StAnza, Scotlands Poetry Festival. She has published three collections of poetry, the latest being Punk with Dulcimer (Peterloo 2006). Her translation of the Catalan poet, Joan Margarit, Tugs in the fog was published by Bloodaxe in 2006 and received a PBS Recommendation. An anthology of Catalan poetry, of which she is co-translator and co-editor, is to be published in October 2007 (Scottish Poetry Library/Carcanet). Jane Draycotts collections include Prince Ruperts Drop (OUP/Carcanet 1999), and The Night Tree ( Carcanet/Oxford Poets 2004), both Poetry Book Society Recommendations. Nominated three times for the Forward Prize for Poetry, she was selected in 2004 as a Next Generation poet (PBS). She is currently completing a new collection Call Sign. Jonathan Dunne translates from Bulgarian, Catalan, Galician and Spanish. He is the author of The DNA of the English Language (Small Stations Press, 2007), a book about word connections in the English language. More information is available at Alyss Dye is a tutor for Kent Adult Education Service, the WEA and the University of Kent. She is a past winner of the Universitys T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize and her poems have been commended in the Kent & Sussex Poetry Societys Folio Competitions.


Notes on Contributors

Robin Fultons first eight collections of poems are out of print: recent poems are scattered in magazines and many have been translated into Swedish, German, Spanish, Hebrew and Chinese. His translations of, among others, Olav H Hauge of Norway (Anvil Press Poetry) and Tomas Transtrmer of Sweden (Bloodaxe Books, and New Directions) are still available. Iain Galbraiths most recent book publications are the anthologies Intime Weiten. Schottische Gedichte (2006) and The Night Begins with a Question. XXV Austrian Poems 19782002 (2007), a German edition of Michael Hamburgers prose writings, Pro Domo. Selbstausknfte, Rckblicke und andere Prosa (2007), and, as translator, Alfred Kolleritsch: Selected Poems (2007). Lucy Hamilton has published in magazines including Magma, Scintilla and Shearsman, with poems forthcoming in Agenda. A selection from The Legend of Lalla Maghnia has recently appeared in the new Poetry School anthology I am twenty people! (Enitharmon). She teaches English to Chinese girls at a school in Ashford, Kent. Mike Horwood was born in London in 1955 and has lived in Finland since 1985. He is studying on Manchester Metropolitan Universitys online M.A. in creative writing and his poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies. Naomi Jaffa is Director of The Poetry Trust the organisation which runs the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival plus a year round programme of readings, education projects, residential courses and publishing initiatives. Her pamphlet The Last Hour of Sleep was published by Five Leaves Press in 2003.

Notes on Contributors


Jenny Josephs first book of poems, The Unlooked-for Season, came out in 1960. Since then she has published a dozen or more volumes of prose and verse, among them works for children. She collaborated with the photographer Robert Mitchell in Beached Boats (Enitharmon 1991). Her most recent publication from Bloodaxe is Extreme of Things (2006), which, together with new work, draws on four previous collections. Martha Kapos is an American living in London. My Nights in Cupids Palace received a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation and won the Jerwood/Aldeburgh Prize for Best First Collection. She is the assistant poetry editor of Poetry London. Niyati Keni is a writer and physician based in Sussex. Her essay in this issue is an excerpt from one written for the Masters Programme in Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, from where she recently graduated with distinction. She is currently working on the final draft of her first novel. Charlie Louth teaches German at Queens College, Oxford. He is the author of Hlderlin and the Dynamics of Translation. He has also translated Hlderlins letters and is now at work on a critical introduction to Rilke. Arthur McHugh is from Glasgow, and now lives in Birmingham. He has published poems and translations in periodicals throughout the U.K. Stephanie Norgates poems have appeared in Oxford Poets 2000, Forward Poems of the Decade, Magma, Poetry London, The Poetry Cure (Bloodaxe 2005), Reactions 3, MsLexia and elsewhere. Bloodaxe will publish a volume of her poetry, Hidden River, next year. Her five-part dramatisation of Elizabeth L. Bankss The Journalistic Adventures of An American Girl in London was the Woman Hours Serial on Radio 4 in 2003.


Notes on Contributors

Pascale Petits last two collections, The Huntress (Seren, 2005) and The Zoo Father (Seren, 2001), were both shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and were books of the year in the Times Literary Supplement. Two new collections are forthcoming from Seren in 2008, The Treekeepers Tale and The Thorn Necklace Forty poems after Frida Kahlo (with the paintings). She is the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Middlesex University 2007-8. Website: Oliver Reynolds is an usher at the Royal Opera House. His last book of poems was Almost (1999). Anthony Rudolf is a poet, translator, short-story writer and publisher. His childhood memoir, The Arithmetic of Memory, was published in 1999. His poetry translations include Yesterdays Wilderness Kingdom by Yves Bonnefoy, brought out by MPT Books in 2000. The National Gallery published his essay on the painter Kitaj in 2001. He lives in London. Carole Satyamurtis latest collection of poetry is Stitching the Dark, New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2005). With Hamish Canham she co-edited Acquainted with the Night: Psychoanalysis and the Poetic Imagination (Karnac, 2003). She is currently - working on a verse re-telling of the Mahabharata. Saradha Soobrayen is the Poetry Editor of Chroma: A LGBT Literary Arts Journal and the administrator for Planet Poetry. She facilitates workshops, mentoring and professional development for writers. Her poems, including My Conqueror and Mo Ti Bb, have appeared in Oxford Poets Anthology 2007 and New Poetries IV. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2004.

Notes on Contributors


Gregory Warren Wilsons third collection, Jeopardy, was published by Enitharmon in 2003. He trained as a classical violinist at the Royal College of Music in London, and now performs internationally. He divides his time between London and Venice.

MODERN POETRY IN TRANSLATION Series 3 Number 1 INTRODUCTIONS Edited by David and Helen Constantine Cover by Chris Hyde

Contents Editorial David and Helen Constantine

Mahmoud Darwish A State of Siege, translated by Sarah Maguire and Sabry Hafez Boris Ryzhy, nine poems, translated by Sasha Dugdale Giorgio Caproni, Ligurian Suite, translated by Robert Hahn Liam Muirthile, five poems, translated by Bernard ODonoghue Eunice Odio, Ode to the Hudson, translated by Keith Ekiss and Mauricio Espinoza Luciano Erba, eleven poems, translated by Peter Robinson Philippe Jaccottet, from Green Notebook, translated by Helen and David Constantine Jorge Yglesias, Two short essays and five poems, translated by Peter Bush Gerhard Falkner, seven poems, translated by Richard Dove The Traveller A Tribute to Michael Hamburger, by Charlie Louth

Price 11 Available from

MODERN POETRY IN TRANSLATION Series 3 Number 2 DIASPORA Edited by David and Helen Constantine Cover by Lucy Wilkinson Contents Editorial David and Helen Constantine

Carmen Bugan, an essay and two poems Yannis Ritsos, fifteen Tristichs, translated by David Harsent David Harsent, three poems from Legion Goran Simic, an essay and four prose poems Forough Farrokhzad, four poems, translated by Gholamreza Sami Gorgan Roodi Marzanna Bogumila Kielar, six poems, translated by Elzbieta Wjcik-Leese Lyubomor Nikolov, six poems, introduced by Clive Wilmer, translated Miroslav Nikolov Adel Gumar, four poems, translated by Tom Cheesman and John Goodby A note on Hafan Books by Tom Cheesman Sndor Mrai, Funeral Oration, translated by George Gmri and Clive Wilmer Paul Batchelor, versions of Ovids Tristia Olivia McCannon, three poems Yvonne Green, three poems Ziba Karbassi, three poems, translated by Stephen Watts Volker Braun, nine poems, translated by David Constantine Wulf Kirsten, ten poems, translated by Stefan Tobler Knut degaard Taking out the Hives translated by Kenneth Steven Eugenio Montale, three uncollected poems, translated by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre Reviews Bernard Adams on George Szirtess Agnes Nemes Nagy Paschalis Nicolaou on David Connollys Yannis Kondos Will Stone on Antony Haslers Georg Heym Price 11 Available from

MODERN POETRY IN TRANSLATION Series 3 METAMORPHOSES Edited by David and Helen Constantine Cover by Lucy Wilkinson Contents Editorial David and Helen Constantine

Number 3

Akhmatova on the South Bank Ruth Borthwick: Anna of all the Russias: Translating Akhmatova Elaine Feinstein: An Evening for Akhmatova Colette Bryce: Six poems Sasha Dugdale: Five poems Jo Shapcott: Five poems George Szirtes (with Veronika Krasnova): Six poems Marilyn Hacker: For Anna Akhmatova John Greening: Coming Soon. Remastered from the Old Norse Neil Philip: Twenty-one glosses on poems from The Greek Anthology Paul Howard: Versions of four sonnets by Giuseppe Belli Terence Dooley: A version of Raymond Queneaus La Pendule Kathleen Jamie: Hlderlin into Scots. Two poems Josephine Balmer: The Word for Sorrow: a work begins its progress Ingeborg Bachmann Karen Leeder: Introduction Mike Lyons: War Diary Patrick Drysdale and Mike Lyons: Five poems Sean OBrien: A version of Canto V of Dantes Inferno Cristina Viti: Eros Alesis Fragments Sarah Lawson and Malgorzata Koraszweska: Six poems by Anna Khn-Cichocka Marilyn Hacker: Guy Goffettes Construction-Site of the Elegy Belinda Cooke and Richard McCane: Six poems by Boris Poplavsky Cecilia Rossi: Poems from Alejandra Pizarniks Works and Nights Terence Cave: A memorial note on Edith McMorran and a translation of Aragons C Paul Batchelor: An essay on Barry MacSweeneys Apollinaire

Reviews Antony Wood on Angela Livingstones Poems from Chevengur Josephine Balmer on Cliff Ashcrofts Dreaming of Still Water and Peter Boyles Eugenio Montejo Paschalis Nikolaou on Philip Ramps Karouzos Francis Jones on Jan Twardowski (translated by Sarah Lawson and Malgorzata Koraszweska) and A Fine Line: New Poetry from Central and Eastern Europe Price 11 Available from

MODERN POETRY IN TRANSLATION Series 3 Number 4 BETWEEN THE LANGUAGES Edited by David and Helen Constantine Cover by Lucy Wilkinson Contents Editorial David and Helen Constantine

Kapka Kassabova Polyglot Peregrinations Amarjit Chandan Inhabiting two Planets Itsik Manger Four Poems, with translations and a literal version, introduced by Helen Beer Michael Hamburger Afterthoughts on the Mugs Game Mary-Ann Constantine To let in the light: Gwyneth Lewiss Poetry of Transition. Gwyneth Lewis Two Poems, translated by Mary-Ann Constantine and the author Choman Hardi Switching Languages: a Hindrance or an Opportunity? Poet to Poet The Scotland-China Project. Introduction by Polly Clark Antonella Anedda Five Poems, translated by Jamie McKendrick Dimitris Tsaloumas Four Poems, translated, with an introduction, by Helen Constantine Extracts from Mourid Barghoutis Midnight, translated by Radwa Ashour Dear Fahimeh, translated by Hubert Moore and Nasrin Parvaz Extracts from Sherko Berkess The Valley of Butterfly, translated by Choman Hardi Ingeborg Bachmann Ten Poems, translated by Patrick Drysdale and Mike Lyons, with an introduction by Karen Leeder Rimbaud Versions of Three Poems, by Martin Bennett Bertolt Brecht Ten Poems of Exile, translated by Timothy Ads Ivan Radoev Three Poems, translated by Kapka Kassabova Anthony Rudolf Any Ideas? Calling all Poetry Detectives Josephine Balmer A Note on Reviewing Translation

Reviews Olivier Burckhardt on Claire Malrouxs Birds and Bison, translated by Marilyn Hacker Sasha Dugdale on Ileana Mlncioius, After the Raising of Lazarus, translated by Eilan N Chuilleanin Price 11 Available from

MODERN POETRY IN TRANSLATION Series 3 Number 5 TRANSGRESSIONS Edited by David and Helen Constantine Cover by Lucy Wilkinson Contents Editorial David and Helen Constantine

Four Mansi songs, translated by Dorothea Grnzweig and Derk Wynand Meles Negusse, Wild Animals, translated by Charles Cantalupo and Ghirmai Negash Hubert Moore, Removals Sasha Dugdale, Lots Wife Pascale Petit, three poems and a translation of a poem by Zhou Zan Andreas Angelakis, Constantine in Constantinople, translated by John Lucas Constantine Cavafy, two poems, translated into Scots, via the French, by John Manson Victor Manuel Mendiola, Your Hand, My Mouth translated by Ruth Fainlight An extract from Bernard ODonoghues translation of Sir Gawain W.D. Jackson, two versions of Boccaccio Helen Constantine, Banned Poems Jean Follain, seven poems, translated by Olivia McCannon Doris Kareva, three poems, translated by Ilmar Lehtpere Hilda Domin, To whom it happens, translated by Ruth Ingram Lyubomir Nikolov, three poems, translated by Clive Wilmer and Viara Tcholakova Rilke, four poems from the Book of Hours, translated by Susan Ranson Amina Sad, four poems, translated by Marilyn Hacker Jeff Nosbaum, versions from the Aeneid and the Iliad Hsieh Ling-yn, By the Stream, translated by Alastair Thomson via the Spanish of Octavio Paz Yu Xuanji, two poems, translated by Justin Hill Kaneko Misuzu, four poems, translated by Quentin Crisp

Gnter Grass, The Ballerina, translated by Michael Hamburger Robert Hull, One Good Translation Deserves Another Reviews Olivia McCannon on Peter Dales Tristan Corbire Timothy Ads on Colin Sydenhams Horace Paschalis Nikolaou on Richard Burns Belinda Cooke on Sailors Home: A Miscellany of Poetry, and Piotr Sommers Continued. Shorter Reviews and Further Books Received Price 11 Available from

MODERN POETRY IN TRANSLATION Series 3 Number 6 AFTER-IMAGES Edited by David and Helen Constantine Cover by Lucy Wilkinson Contents Editorial David and Helen Constantine

Brecht on the South Bank Translations and Poems after Brecht by Adrian Mitchell, Andy Croft, Lavinia Greenlaw, Ulrike Draesner, Iain Galbraith, David Constantine, Bert Papenfuss, Andrew Duncan, Albert Ostermaier and Tom Cheesman introduced by Karen Leeder Bertolt Brecht, four new Herr Keuner Stories and a short Reflection on the Constitution, translated by Tom Kuhn Gonalo Tavares, five stories, translated by Desire Jung Thomas Brasch, five poems, translated by Ken Cockburn Mimi Khalvati, five ghazals Damian Walford Davies, Kilvert, with illustrations by Lucy Wilkinson Ellen Coverdale, two poems after Lorenzetti and Courbet Pascale Petit, two poems after Ren Magritte and Leonor Fini Jeff Nosbaum, Ukiyo-e, after Ryoi Alison Brackenbury, 1.15 a.m. Tara Bergin, Himalayan Balsam for a Soldier, after Christina Rossettis Winter: My Secret Oliver Reynolds, MVM David Hart, He came mute . . . Andrea Zanzotto, Hypersonnet, translated by Peter Hainsworth Tom Cheesman, Owain Glyndwr Explained to an Algerian Asylum-Seeker Act V Robert Hull, two poems R. Cheran, I could forget all this . . ., translated by Lakshmi Holmstrm

Waldo Williams, The Dead Children, translated by Damian Walford Davies Mario Luzi, two poems, translated by Elizabeth MacDonald Dorothea Grnzweig, three poems, translated by Derk Wynand Vyacheslav Kupriyanov, four poems, translated by Dasha Nisula Poems from Aldeburgh Naomi Jaffa, Poets and their Translators at Aldeburgh Joan Margarit, six poems, translated by Anne Crowe Durs Grnbein, three poems, translated by Michael Hofmann Peter France, In Memory of Gennady Aygi: Translation and Community Francis Jones, Stroking Hands over the Heart Reviews Anna Reckin on Yang Lian and Zeng Danyi Belinda Cooke on Clive Scott and Ruth Fainlight Josephine Balmer, Short Reviews and Further Books Received Price 11 Available from

MODERN POETRY IN TRANSLATION Series 3 Number 7 LOVE AND WAR Edited by David and Helen Constantine Cover by Lucy Wilkinson Contents Editorial David and Helen Constantine

Adonis, nine poems, translated by Peter Clark and Sarah Maguire Jeff Nosbaum, Pride of Ajax Yannis Ritsos, twenty-eight of the Monochords, translated by Paul Merchant Guillaume Apollinaire, seven poems, translated by Stephen Romer Pushkin, The Captains Daughter, extracts translated by Robert Chandler Vnus Khoury-Ghata, six poems from Interments, translated by Marilyn Hacker Gilgamesh, an extract translated by Paul Batchelor Federico Garcia Lorca, Song of the Civil Guard, translated by Mark Leech Oliver Reynolds, Kolin and Dusty Miller Breaks his Silence (after Liliencrons Wer weiss wo and Vergiss die Mhle nicht) Stephen Romer, four poems Du Fu, two poems, translated by Paul Harris Charles Dobzynski, My Life as a Wall, translated by Marilyn Hacker Lucretius, Aulis, translated by Stephanie Norgate Robert Desnos, ten poems, translated by Timothy Ads Anzhelina Polonskaya, four peoms, translated by Andrew Wachtel Manuel Rivas, six poems, translated by Jonathan Dunne Giuseppe Belli, four sonnets, translated by Mike Stocks Elsa Morante, Farewell, an extract translated by Cristina Viti Andrea Zanzotto, four poems, translated by Jo Catling and others Elena Shvarts, nine poems, translated by Sasha Dugdale Reviews and Comments Michael Hamburger on Assia Wevill Robin Fulton on Robin Robertsons Transtrmer

Sasha Dugdale on Emily Lygos Voltskaia Charlie Louth on Eavan Boland and the Bachmann-Henze correspondence Belinda Cooke on translations of Vittorio Sereni and Luciano Erba Josephine Balmer, Shorter Reviews Price 11 Available from

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Modern Poetry in Translation Third SeriesNumber Eight

Getting it Across Cable-Ship

We fished up the Atlantic cable betweeen Barbados and Tortuga, held up our lanterns and patched over the gash on its back, fifteen degrees north and sixty-one west. When we put our ears to the gnawed part we heard the murmuring of the cable. One of us said: Its the millionaires in Montreal and St Johns discussing the price of Cuban sugar and the lowering of our wages. We stood there long, thinking, in a lantern circle, we patient cable-fishers, then lowered the mended cable back to its place in the sea. (Harry Martinson , trans. Robin Fulton) Always informative, tactfully surprising, the new impressive MPT continues, undaunted, to advance through formidable language barriers. Dannie Abse Also in this issue: Jenny Joseph, Annemarie Austin, Bernardo Atxaga and Robert Walser.

Cover design by Lucy Wilkinson

ISBN 978-0-9545367-7-0 Price: 11 (UK)