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If you could come on the late train for the same walk or talk by the fireplace when the flares as I hard could hard would recall you to recall along the look. To unwrap you as it once had when the rain streamed on the air and we knew then that it was all wrong. It was with us and a year to the few years we account modes but the blue and the cloud blue in the sky fell from it's a rose in the woods room to the brooch. And the clock read to the half dead the profound pages of the cloud broke in the moon's boat and the door shut. If you could and it meant that the steep price we regret yet because the swells in the night and they could if you could see in the sky and
their limbs were still the bad cry is like a herd thing if you would. But the moons and the clocks for we know now how we can give all but it won't do and that the day is laying there of the blacks crying nor the blood flush. What we took once for a sure thing for Delight's right. For the Cleary with it's a wild star in the Suns. We would have back at the old us that the very and we beg for the same and then the guy turns with oh as the lead. But the ways I guess. And there is no toy. The benign gaze upon some hours and the rush.
Another from this book that I don't think started as a metrical experiment happens to be 14 yrs fourteeners were really in the 16th century. Some of them. This is the last judgement in Illinois it's about the traditional idea of hell of fire. The suggestion that this might be better than what could happen to us could be better perhaps than knowing what we have really done and can never do and that facing what we are is possibly the worst hell that could be from which it would be to jump into a nice cozy nest of flames. When one way out of range done the great plane of flabbergasting feeding for our lungs hang slack an air not drawn with. And see for many miles around our Easter Island
the gaping show of Irish and foot lights from the sky. How many a scene long out of mind in rooms we barely knew. Punch or Judy. Lewd. Or a blue and say our working face in the moment and them side of us from our age yourselves lightening our having such a motive for their hate each knowing what it knows. We know our terrible hearts who will trust our luck with those. And this book from which I've just been reading had quite a lot of apparatus and had a lot of epigrams and Latin Greek Polish
Dutch capital and. All kinds of things and do a lot of literary poems and poems referring to other works of art. This seems to me seems to me not the best way to write poetry so I tried to do a simple book called flesh and bone and this means they're mostly about love and death love and pray tell me sir what else is there. I think Emily Dickinson's said something very like that and I tried to use a very simple form like the Ella Jayate couplet that the great poets were very happy with for about sixteen hundred years. And most of them they do you know why. Ask any folk singer. I guess you know they don't have folk songs and free verse as far as I know. I want them to be fun sort of rhyme but then also I try to have very few
a few a slip and that Korean got in there and I tried to do these in so simple a language if there weren't many adjectives at least there were many literary descriptive adjectives. The adjective said Valerie is the enemy of the now and most of all I think I tried to make these sound rather like speech. Much good poetry it seems to me has been my reading these poems constitutes no endorsement of them of course I'm merely telling you what I was trying to do. Not saying this was. I set a limit of 8 lines for these poems arbitrarily. One is called bikini and it was a love poem. The naked flesh brings tears. The why is so few for love to enter. And it's quicker to
do death the COA are sure rugby's by many a way when the whim is on comes to stay. Or here is the same girl by the ocean but this is in terms of her psyche I think if we could see it. What's going on in her mind her memories and could be represented by the constellations and all the mess that they've been made to stand for. It's called the girl. Toto testing ocean the starlet's her body like brilliant reasoning. She stole. And blown with the blowing dark about her face streamers like fields of force from outer space. Streamers her memory seem that the Northern Lights glittering. Could we see
we'd see all have been cartoon or seen nebula shiver as she dips a toe. For days of our years. Some of these are two lines of this. You will know if you can count on that rhyme. The days of our years it's brief and bright dear children bright and very deil lights the lightning the long thunders agree. For a poem called Love and the way that this bothers me because it may seem flippant as I think many of these may seem to be. I don't think many of them are. That doesn't mean they really aren't but I didn't mean them to be and all of this is a poem in terms of the chaos I take it to be about love and and to mean something like like this love would be meaningless without the fact of or
Wallace Stevens death was the mother of beauty. Or it's related to it's we don't begin to live until we conceive life is tragedy. I mean nothing seems to have as much value until we see it as imperiled and then everything is far more valuable. I'm going to some trouble to convince you this is not a flippant poem of love and death and yet a kick ass like blob or blur without the assuring SCO all being the. Some literary allusions got a phone call with fingering and refers to one of his Roman elegies. Remember get in bed with his mistress and counting out the hexameter on her finger and kind of shocking to think a poet has to use his fingers to count out rhythms anyway but.
This has two speakers some of the stereo poems. Some of them are rather. That makes them a little hard for me to read. I'm not sure how to show when one voice comes and when another does. Ten thousand cigarettes from as many drinks so I may forget. Oh honey. Let sleeping lovers will let sleeping lovers lie. My dear I know as well as you. But here is a lot of that's out. Can even that be true. Parting. We met in error. If too close to regrets and I am away. Yesterday was easy come easy go today
forget the way we burned or we to that pain on either part forget we are all still as wind said knife blade to the heart the joy is supposed to be dead joy is out these days they tell me it is not possible for an intelligent man and a lot of poets will not agree with Yeats who wouldn't read he wouldn't quite a few of these I think are just plain about joy which in my experience exists one call vision for example. That blonde waves lapping over cone. What glee in this amorous gadget flesh and bone. For some I may be a serious point rather lightly. This I take to be a protest against the limitations of
progress. It's called the 2 1 6 7. When I have a plastic heart sore for another's kidney as corny is being with more unmentionable rubber and such in a steel drawer Do not touch the mirror brain cells in a silo and wash I thrive with thousands taped to quaver out a lot. God grant that too. Eyes of glass to glitter. When the nurses. As we mentioned before the
translator with a distinct and particular vision of how the rendering from one language into another should be done. We have time I think most about it to read one of his translations followed by whatever discussion list and I see fit to produce in the wake of it and then from within them to do the following. Go ahead and. Let us say something rude. The whole subject of translation is higher the enigmatic to me or translations to me essays in the impossible I've chosen a poem of The Root is actually called the niggas I think intend to remove from you progressively all possibility of solution which is often the way the translator feels in the presence of
the poem or the way the poet feels in the presence of the experience. Here is the best I could do at a poem which I'm sure keeps its secrets as more enigmas than I could tackle. You would know what the crab in its cologne hole go and die and ocean will say it. You ask what the luminous belled of the tuna Kate awaits in the water. What does it hope for I tell you it waits for the fullness of time like yourself. For whom does the our government extend its embraces and Riddle it riddle it out at a time in a sea that I know. And the narwhals malevolent ivory. Though you turn for my answer I tell you you stay for a stranger reply. How he suffered the killing harpoon.
Or you look at maybe for the kingfishers plumage a pulsation of purest beginning in the tropical water. You would sniff the electrical matter that moves on the tines of the void. The lack of tight splintering armor that lengthens its crystal. The BB of the angler fish. The singing extension that we have in the depths and is loosed on the waters. I would then say you Ocean will say it is the ark of its life. Time is vast as the seas flawless and numberless between cluster and cluster the blood in the Vintage time brightens the flint in the petal. The beam in the jellyfish The branches are threshed in the skein of the carle from the infinite pearl of the whole and. I am that net waiting emptily out of range of the onlooker slain in the shadows. Fingers
to a triangle a timid half circles dimensions computed in our inches probing a starry infinitude eye cave like yourselves through the mesh of my being in the night and awoke to my nakedness. All that was left of the catch a fish in the noose of the wind. I think the definition of translation that I rather like. I like almost everything you wrote of poetry but this is what he said about translation. This is really only to translate. Which is to reconstitute as nearly as possible the effect of a certain hero text in Spanish by means of another
text in French speaking about a trance. Well obviously from Spanish into French and what one does reconstitute I think this is really what translation is. Yes that would then be the matter of the means by which this was done in the particular informing spirit of the poet which which Tode when this was being done and when it was correspondingly when it was not. Now apparently again I'm not at all in the league with you in translation or theory of translation but it seems to me that there has been a kind of a kind of a very real revolution in translation ever since oh ever since at least Mr. Professor. And when people begin to conceive that there could be a creative principle of
translation which which did not in the end and in the final analysis depend on on what would you say accuracy literal literal and this and this I think I think this particular notion sparked brilliantly by both in his theory and his in his translations particularly from the from the Chinese which are kind of classic translations of that thought have have have begun a particular attitude to a translation which is carried on into our day and which is made kind of an embattled area of the whole of the whole world the whole possibility of translation. There are people who say literal literalists and other people who say literal is there's nothing
to say to the people the embattled of the literalists say of the literal translation fascinations say if you were translating from Sophocles they would say and I have heard them say that this is nothing more than Sophocles laid out in English. On the on the other hand those who are those who believe that accuracy to the text are formal and linguistic accuracy is the only ways on death row for plastination at all. Otherwise one is substituting one's own want to own one's own poetry for say the poetry of Sophocles or real whoever it might be. What do you think about just been do you have any one of those. That's a problem with always broods about feel a little guilty about because I think one very soon discovers that what one is involved in is not the translation of one word to another but the
translation of poetry into poetry. And unfortunately that doesn't follow gratuitously when one word has been put alongside when translated where it is put alongside another translated word. As I think so long as the translator concerned with the translation of poetry. He must take upon himself all. Aspects of the poetic process itself. It involves not merely a checklist of words which correspond or seem to correspond to the words in the original but due process of composition reflection choice. And even extension that he finds that he must cope with. I want to say one other thing because particularly I'm talking about the translation of poetry and
much out of the great Spanish contemporary I like to say that poetry is the word in its time. And I think the translation of poetry hasn't even begun until the translator has put a pulse underneath his language which from that point on makes continuous demands upon him until the last word has been set into its rightful place in the English momentum of the thing that it is not open ended that you impose controls out of prosody and out of the nature of the English language to which. Bullet must be sensitive in response. Well I remember he spoke of the definition of translation I remember a much simpler one of Robert Frost. His definition of poetry as that which is lost in translation.
Now now people people of the persuasion as a pound of the Chinese translations believed that that exact equivalence is no good in rendering a poem from one language into another. If when brought into the new language out into the language which is not the original language. The point is as he would say in his colorful language dead ossified that that true translation is something which creates an equivalent in the second language which is just as living a poem in that language as the poem was in their language for which it has been translated. Passive language is alive to you and it is to a poet and he is concerned with. After old translating translation of poetry has to do with the transmission of power. Let's hope the transmission of beauty
and that also has to pass into the artifact that you build out of out of the words. I don't know if Coleridge was far enough to say that poetry is concerned with the purpose of the meeting of poetry. The immediate aim of poetry is pleasure not willing to go and then say that that has something to say for translation. The immediate translation should also parallel poetry by by this immediate immediacy of something pleasurable because certainly immediate pleasure is our best assurance of a search for eventual truth. Listen you know I quoted that passage from you because I was thinking a meaning. We all know in speaking of an English poem that the paraphrase is not the poem we say that again and again and yet how many people reading a translation of a poem want only the meaning it's all they care about but that wasn't the poem
to begin with. And the poet himself of all the possible meanings. Well another good saying of Allah radios. We have more trouble finding ideas for our words than words for our ideas. And if we read the prose of Saint John of the cross explaining his poems it's perfectly clear that he did not always say all what was to be said that he never did and that the actual meaning is a very small part of what made the poem a poem. And this is why I get rather annoyed with readers who say I want the meaning because that wasn't the poem. Which doesn't mean that one can distort the meaning and the recounts to tuition as a reconstitution as in that of meaning kind of diction imagery rhythm sound. I think if a translator comes across a sound effect. He may be obligated to do something about that if the language will permit him to. Listen. Would you give us one of your own fascinations of San Juan de la Cruz.
Yeah I translated this maybe a dozen years ago and then I just redid it because it seemed to me that the first translation was not enough like the language of Saint John of the cross. We know that his language was extremely simple and colloquial and even rural say critics. So how can one translate this by saying whether has Venice should one translator did this he obviously didn't know what kind of what kind of diction this was. And what I've tried to do is get back to a simpler kind of English. Maybe if I read you one or two stanzas of the original version then the new version think there's a time for that. This will show you. OK just the knowing is right. All right. One of St. John of the cross is poems about the love between God and man is written in terms of love between man and woman as all of his great poems are you can write poems to God without ever using the word which is one reason they're so great they could be a human love poem.
Once in the dark of night when love burned bright with yearning by a rose of delight and how I left none was dead to the world my house and the repose in the dark where Oh it goes right by means of a secret ladder there close oh a windfall of delight in the dark and hid from the dead to the world my already pose. They're in the Lucky dark in secret with all sleepers no sign for me to mark no other light. No guy except for my heart the fire the fire inside that will lead me keener than sunlight in the high blue to where they're waited while I knew how well I knew in a place where no one was in view.
Oh dark of night my night Derry than anything oh your dongs discover oh night drawing side to side in the lover she that the love lost and the lover. On blossoms of my bro just kept for his pleasure guard and his alone the lover lay a lap and I regaled my own there on air from plumes of the cedar blow air from the castle wall is my hand and his hair moved lovingly apply a light cool fingers fall and it's seared me where they are all sense of do I stay and I stayed for it got me my forehead on the lever I reclined slipped from the ME and that with every care. Among the lilies falling in and out of mind.
I think maybe we have it come in time for coming into it. It's obviously a dangerous and business nation a ways into translation and the uses of translation are devious and difficult as the as the translators and the particular sense of responsibility I think we really can't say anything less. About this than that. The task of translation is both technical skill of devotion to the right of knowledge of the language but above all a matter of conscience. How how far you you can trust your own personality to intrude or to implement what has been said by another man in another language and most likely at another time.
Are you having any final comments. Well I think I would have to say that might be consoling that. We ought to accept the fact that we can never have the one true translation. Because we never had the one true original. Well we've been here with American cooks been belet and John Frederick Nam's also with Spanish poet and a lot of Spanish quote Pablo Neruda and San Juan de la Cruz far from lot and they are them and they are and vices Ben ballot and John Frederick. You have heard the John Frederick names and Ben ballot reading and discussing their portrayed with James Dickie consulted in poetry to the Library of Congress. This was another in a series of lectures and readings recorded at the
Library of Congress lectures II
Episode Number
Episode 1 of 9
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WUOM (Radio station : Ann Arbor, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Lectures and readings from the Library of Congress, 1967-68 season. This prog.: Poetry readings and discussions with James Dickey, moderator, and participants Ben Belitt and John Frederick Nims.
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Producer: Library of Congress
Producing Organization: WUOM (Radio station : Ann Arbor, Mich.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-40-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:32
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Chicago: “Library of Congress lectures II; Episode 1 of 9,” 1968-09-09, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 7, 2021,
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APA: Library of Congress lectures II; Episode 1 of 9. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from