‘Poetry? Translated? You must be joking! Poetry can’t be translated. A great poem consists of a particular line-up of words in a particular order. This it can only be. Those words alone. Translated?! Never. It goes against the spirit of the entire thing. You are quite, quite mad’ (Doris Boshchov)
So said my wife, many years ago. And so she repeats today, bravely going in the face of, well, a large part of my career. And I’d be a fool to suggest that she isn’t right. On the other hand, have you ever tried to read Lithuanian?
Translation is, perhaps, the wrong word. It’s altogether too confident. Its meaning has been saturated by decades of ignorance. ‘Version’, maybe, might suit the situation a little better. A translator presents us with their ‘version’ of events. Make no bones about it. This is not the original.
Whilst we’re sailing on the warm seas of this subject, it will have come to some of your attentions that the British Broadcasting Corporation are having some sort of poetry season at present. Bless them. Unfortunately, the frowning hawk of rumour informs me that a one hour programme on the Bulgarian Farm Poets Movement, presented by the red-haired girl from musical combo ‘Girl’s Aloud’ (some sort of skiffle group, if my memory serves me correctly) has been cancelled. Very sad news that. If there’s one thing that Britain needs at the moment, it is to hear more about Tomas Lurgsy and the gang. Maybe those musical girls could bring some of their poetry into their songs?