Would you mind answering a quick questionnaire?
Thread poster: billyg
Apr 27, 2010

Hi, I am doing a thesis on Emily Dickinson's poetry. I am trying to compare and contrast some translation strategies for poetry and specifically for Emily Dickinson. Please, just answer these questions:
(My translation is from English into Spanish)

1.- What translation strategy/theory do you apply for poetry translation?

2.- What element is more important to keep in poetry translation? (rhyme, meter, length...)

3.- What is your criteria to judge a good translation in poetry area?

4.- What are the main difficulties you have encountered?

5.- What is your own general strategy?

6.- How do you think it is translating Emily Dickinson different from other poets?

7.- How possible/impossible you think poetry translation is?

I would very much appreciate your answers and contributions. I won't forget to thank you in my final paper.


Natalia Betiana Manfredi
Local time: 01:33
English to Spanish
translation of poetry Apr 29, 2010

Dear friend,
I will try to answer some of the questions. They are not easy!
1) I guess I do not apply any sort of theory or strategy.
2) The most important element, for me, is rhyme.
3) It is difficult to say, but I guess it has to do with lots of things. But, as a general idea, it has to do with music. If you read it in a loud voice, and you can feel some kind of similar music to the original version, and of course, with the same intense feelings, well then, it is a good translation for me.
4) The main difficulty has been trying to "reproduce" the music I mentioned before.
5) No general strategies at all.
6) Every poet is different, and a unique challenge.
7) I think it is almost impossible. A poem is a piece of art. It is like a painting. You can describe a painting, and specify every single detail to someone who is not looking at it... but that person will not get the final idea unless he or she can look at it by himself. And about the feelings... you can't tell someone how you feel... sometimes you don't even know what you are feeling yourself. So, translating poetry is almost impossible. Only great minds, like Borges, for example, were able to do it.


erika lucia
Local time: 23:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Translation of poetry Apr 30, 2010

I hope I can help.

1. There are a lot of different strategies you can use when you face poetry translation, I don’t think you could use only one, but you should know when one works better than the others.
2. One element is not more important than other to keep in poetry translation. There are some great translations that have changed their form: from rhyme to prose, and even from prose to rhyme. What is most important is to maintain the feeling created in the reader. Writers have their own strategies to achieve an impact in readers; however, we are not forced to use the same one. We are encouraged to use the one that creates the same effect in the target language; because, as we know, sometimes, it has a different meaning for the new target readers (due to intrinsic characteristics of the language or to the ideology of the target culture).
3. As I already mentioned, what makes a good translation for me is the one that is capable of really transmitting the same feeling/effect/ambiance of the original one. Of course, if the target culture is not too far from the original one, it would be better is you could maintain as many as the author’s strategies as you can, but it doesn’t always work.
4. Understanding the author. In order to be able to “translate feelings” you first need to understand which are the feelings the author is trying to express. It is always better to stay with just one author and learn his/her style and get used to it, which would make your job easier. But, we know that is not possible, so, try to learn as much as you can from each author and the effects he or she had in their own culture and time.
5. There is not a general strategy.
6. I have not translated Emily Dickinson. But as with all major poets, the challenge is greater as to capture their vision of the world and to reproduce the effects they had in their original readers.
7. It is an extremely difficult task and it requires a lot of intellectual capacity, as well as imagination and creativity, from the translator. There is always some lost in translation, and it becomes greater and more obvious in translation of literature, in any of its forms.

All that is left to say is: Don’t forget about context. Context changes everything (strategies, effects, semantics, and so on).

erika lucia


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