difficult to explain and more difficult to earn

The alienation between original text and new language is not the problem in translation - though many assume it is. The text and the language exist and are solid. It is the translator who is alienated. Misunderstood, misjudged, the gap a translator aims to fill is impossible and problematic and common and everyday. How to move a word, an image, a phrase, from one language to another, where words and images and phrases have different resonances and etymological histories. It is also an issue of trust, thought this is difficult to explain and more difficult to earn. I have learned over the years to trust other poets to lead me into and out of the problems translation presents. When an image, a line, a rhyme won't come together, I look to other poets to see how they assemble their ideas. In this, recent English-language poet-translators are the most useful: Pound, Lowell, Christopher Middleton, Daryl Hine, Elaine Feinstein, Marilyn Hacker, Michael Hofmann, A.E. Stallings. Those who have gone beyond simple accuracy and moved the poem into a space between the original and their own, so that the translated poem becomes its own contraption.

- Evan Jones, from the afterword to his translation of C.P. Cavafy, The Barbarians Arrive Today: Poems & Prose

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