Kenneth Rexroth ( 1905 - 1982)
World outside the Window: The Selected Essays of Kenneth Rexroth
By Kenneth Rexroth; Bradford Morrow
The Poet As Translator
When discussing the poet as translator, from time immemorial it has been the custom to start out by quoting Dryden. I shan't, but I will try to illustrate Dryden's main, thesis--that the translation of poetry into poetry is an act of sympathy--the identification of another person with oneself, the transference of his utterance to one's own utterance. The ideal translator, as we all know well, is not engaged in matching the words of a text with the words of his own language. He is hardly even a proxy, but rather an all-out advocate. His job is one of the most extreme examples of special pleading. So the prime criterion of successful poetic translation is assimilability. Does it get across to the jury?