Saturday, September 27, 2008

one further book, which just indicates how lax I have been in writing this marvelous and useful blog, to wit:

The Complete Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus translated by Ryan Gallagher, published by Bootstrap Press. he is one of the proprietors of the press. I have, or perhaps had--maybe I deep-sixed it--a wretched translation of Catullus. I do not recall the translator but his crime was his choice to bring Catullus' slang to the present age. I think the translator's sense of the present age's slang was archaic or anachronistic, and certainly the ear was not good. the effect was merely goofy.

I am no Latin scholar so I can only read the poems for their sense of freshness. they seem like poems not exercises, which is always the first endeavour in translation, at least in readership's view. Gallagher includes an extensive and useful afterward about his process. he cites the Catullus that the Zukofskys produced. now, Gallaghher, does not attempt a homophonic translation, but I can see how he placed the lines in his head and worked them into poetry. he makes the translation process a very present one, with the sense of writing rather than rewriting. I get that sense out of Paul Blackburn's translations. or let me say, I do NOT get that sense from the army of translators who have latched onto Neruda, Bly et al., who seem relentless in producing what even I, barely voiced in Spanish, can see is mangled versions of the originals. Gallagher's translations are unlaboured, respect the language into which they have been translated, and live. the Latin originals are placed at the back of the book. I would prefer seeing them en face, the better to compare, but that's a choice. buy the book, support the press that wants to live in Lowell.
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