|Article Title: Translation of poetry |
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Translation of poetry
Poetry has been defined in many ways. A very simple definition of this term is given by the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English :” poems in general, or the art of writing them” . A more detailed definition is provided by the Random House Unabridged Dictionary : “the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts”.
Burkhanov (2002: 139) maintains that translation of poetry is the one to which translatologists devote their greatest attention. Nevertheless, even though it is one of the most widely explored areas within translation study it is still an arguable issue and yet there is an enormous amount of difficulties encountered by a translator during this translation process. What is more, it is so problematical that many experts call it to be impossible. Clement Wood, the editor of “The Complete Rhyming Dictionary” maintained that poetry could not be translated since it could be only recreated in a new language. He further claimed that if we translate it with absolute fidelity the poetry will be dead (Landers 2001: 97).
Anybody who has ever attempted to translate even a single poem knows that poetry poses special kinds of problems. The ‘soul’ of poetry lies in the use of language in a figurative, metaphorical mode of expression. A number of literary specialists have emphasized that poetic language is different that the language of everyday use. This idea led to the conviction that there exists so called “poetic diction”, which is in other words a specialized language that is peculiar to poetry and is characterized by its own vocabulary (Burkhanov 2002: 141). What is more, poetry is specific also in its organizational and structural aspect. Every syllable counts. Thus, the translator of poetry is limited by its formal means of expression such as rhythm, rhyme, repetition , consonance, alliteration et cetera. To make it even more complicated, the aforementioned properties of poetic texts are particularly important since some poems are based on the phenomena of sound symbolism. Some lines are tricky since there are ambiguous words. In addition to this, the translation of type of genre causes other difficulties on the grounds of its internal organization into poetic metre (Burkhanov 2002: 142-143). It is frequently necessary to pad, adding feet to make the line come our right, which often means introducing semantic elements not present in the original.
All of these arguments prove that a poetry includes a number of various factors to be taken into consideration during the translation process. Bearing them all mind it is hard to disagree with Scott (1991: 60) that : “it is implausible to imagine that any translator can concentrate on one dimension of text only”.