* You are viewing the archive for September, 2009

Valerie Rouzeau Pas revoir – Cold Spring in Winter translated by Susan Wicks; Arc Publications

Pas revoir, Valerie Rouzeau’s brilliant sequence of poems on the death of her father, is challenging in many ways and on many levels. The linguistic demands posed by its verbal dislocations and fragmentations, its allusiveness, and multiple lexical ambiguities would have put it completely out of reach of my French if I’d attempted to read it without the support of Susan Wicks’ translation. With her support, I’ve been able to appreciate beauties in the original which she has not been able to render into English – which is, after all, the point of a parallel text translation. For example, the … Continue Reading

Keith Douglas, “The Marvel” and “L’Albatros” by Baudelaire

Rereading Baudelaire’s poem “L’ Albatros”, I’ve been struck again by how superior, to my mind, Keith Douglas’s “The Marvel” is. I imagine that Douglas’s poem was fed by Baudelaire’s and flies partly on its wings – his Complete Poems includes several translations of poems by Rimbaud written before “The Marvel”, and the similarity of metaphorical vehicle between the two poems is obvious. But the essential superiority is to do with how Douglas’s mind worked. Where “L’ Albatros” basically expresses one idea, Douglas’s is a brilliantly unresolved mishmash of conflicting feelings, ideas and impressions. No doubt in part this reflects the dislocations … Continue Reading