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Translating free verse: two poems from Jaccottet's 'On voit.'.

One might argue that the peculiar challenge of free verse lies in its being, at one and the same time, possibly the strictest and possibly the most accommodating of mediums. It can be seen as strict in that, historically, one of its principal raisons d'etre is its inimitability: the chant profond of the poet is registered in lexical and lineal configurations which declare no structural ancestry and wish no progeny. Such verse exists only in the moment of its making, or of its being read. D. H. Lawrence's 'Poetry of the Present', the Introduction to the American edition of his New Poems (1918), is perhaps the classic expression of this creed:

For such utterance any externally-applied law would be mere shackles and death. The law must come new each time from within. The bird is on the wing in the winds, flexible to every breath, a living spark in the storm, its very flickering depending upon its supreme mutability and power of change. Whence such a bird came: whither it goes: from what solid earth it rose up, and upon what solid earth it will close its wings and settle, this is not the question. This is a question of before and after. Now, now, the bird is on the wing in the winds.(1)

On the other hand, it is easy to assimilate free verse to a kind of montage writing, or engineer writing, or editing, whereby lineation and collocation, no longer constrained by the dictates of a regular metrical structure, can explore the varying demands of paralinguistic and expressive possibility, in forms and dispositions which are necessarily provisional, a personal view of the optimal. What temptations for textual change are offered to the reader, how much unexercised choice still inhabits every inch of this mutable text? As translators, we are constantly invited to re-imagine ourselves, and equally to re-discover ourselves; we need the kind of medium equal to the multidimensionality of the translational experience; as Yves Bonnefoy puts it:

Free verse is poetry, in its necessary freedom of expression and research. And one of the consequences of this (...) is that it is as such the only place where the contemporary poet can define and solve the problems he meets in his existential or cultural condition: for instance, in his relationship with the poets of the past and his task of translating them.(2)

And not only with the poets of the past.

Ironically enough, it may be free verse, more than regular verse, which can re-establish the textual integratedness of the target text. One can broadly agree with another of Bonnefoy's propositions, that translation too often involves a process whereby form and content become divorced:

we must understand that writing, the act of writing, is in itself an unbreakable unity whose formal operations are conceived and executed in constant interaction with, for example, the invention of the images and the elaboration of meaning. (...) But this necessary freedom is not, unfortunately, within reach of the translator. In his case, meaning, the whole meaning of the poem, is already determined; he cannot invent anything about it without betraying the intent of the author. Consequently, were he to decide to adopt the alexandrine or the pentameter, this regular pattern would be for him nothing but a frame to which the meaning would have to adjust itself, obliging him to pure Virtuosity.(3)

But the problem does not obtain only when the translator chooses a new, ready-made form for an existing content. Curiously, in free verse, the danger is the converse: form and content are likely to become dissociated precisely if the target text tries to model itself too closely on the source text. Only a free free-verse rendering can reestablish the original integrity of making.(4)

Why should this be so? The translator of free verse who follows the lineation of the source text has no justification for doing so either on the grounds of fidelity to the original or for prosodic reasons. By the former, I mean simply that no target text can reproduce that combination of the source text's syllabic quantities, rhythms, acoustic patterns, syntax, which constitute the line as line. To follow the source-text's lineation is merely to reproduce its 'look'. By the latter I mean that not the least of the consequences of the shift from regular verse to free verse is the change wrought in the status of the line. To identify a line in regular verse as, say, an iambic pentameter is to identify a poem's unit of metrico-rhythmicity, of sense-making, and its tonal, intonational and respirational field. A line in free verse, on the other hand, is a collocation of words (though the monolexical line is also possible) whose status may be opaque, from which no underlying structural principle may be deducible. Of course, we may identify what to us appear to be the distinguishing expressive features of the line - as we do for the poems and translations which follow. But the poem will not indicate to us whether we are right; just as it will not indicate whether, as a whole, it is a heteroclite aggregate of vying principles, a structure in search of itself, or a sequence of variations on some structural constant or module. Accordingly, we must be ready to improvise both our reading and our translation, not least because Bonnefoy's notion of meaning as something unified, extractable and transferable is a far cry from what the reading experience tells us.

More than in other kinds of translation, therefore, it might be argued that the free-verse translator has the liberty, nay the obligation, (a) actively to reconstitute the freedom of the source text's free verse, certainly on something more than an inertial principle, and, correspondingly, (b) to maintain its improvised and improvisatory nature.

The first poem of Philippe Jaccottet's eight-poem cycle 'On voit':(5)

On voit les ecoliers courir a grands cris 2+4+2+3 dans l'herbe epaisse du preau. 4+4

Les hauts arbres tranquilles 3+3 et la lumiere de dix heures en septembre 4+4+4 comme une fraiche cascade 4+3 les abritent encore de l'enorme enclume 3+3+4+2 qui etincelle d'etoiles par-dela. 4+3+4

opens with the dramatic /???vwa/, a shift from back vowel to front, from rounded to unrounded and open; the mouth articulates encompassment and projection, as we, while remaining spectators, are thrust forward towards the children. The disyllabic thrust of 'On voit' is taken up by 'courir' (notice how an impetus-giving 2 can be changed into a force of claustration, as a line-terminal measure, in line 6). It is extremely difficult for us to identify the poem's temporality: 'On voit' may be a punctual present, or an available, customary present. The insistent /e/ of 'les ecoliers' maintains the predominance of the front, unrounded vowel, taken up by 'courir' and 'cris'. Each of the first two lines has its own elements of acoustic cohesion - /k/, /R/ and /i/ in the first line, /[Epsilon]/ and /p/ in the second - but the elan of /e/ ('e') is common to both. While the first line is, rhythmically, full of activity, the second has some of the smooth evenness of its subject - the 4+4 opens up space and quietens the turmoil of the first line. And the coupe enjambante ('epai:/sse du preau') not only softens the grass by lengthening the vowel (/l[Epsilon]Rbep[Epsilon]: s???dypReo/) but establishes the post-accentual e atone, a crucial structural factor in the poem as a whole. While the first line is full of abrupt segmentation and acoustic clatter, the second installs deceleration and a shift away from the human bustle. Finally, the schoolyard ('preau') produces a darkening closure: /o/, following on from the front, unrounded vowels it is paired with (/i/ at the end of previous line, /e/preceding), is back and rounded.

As the voice sinks, at the end of the opening couplet, so /o/'s direction will be reversed in the almost immediately following 'hauts'. The settledness of line 2 is endorsed by line 3, with its two trisyllabic measures, again articulated around a coupe enjambante; the change is merely one of axis. The trees provide the rhyme ('tranquilles'), or rather assonance (/ki/), to soften (with its/1/) and disperse (with its feminine ending) the 'cris' of the first line; and the moment of fruitful and reassuring stillness reaches its zenith in the fourth line: a classic 'trimetre' (if we dare call it that), a doubled coupe enjambante, the alliterative or assonant pairings in each measure ('la lumiere'; 'de dix'; 'en septembre'), the continuing presence of /[Epsilon]/.

But there are signs of imminent change. It is significant that the orthographic rendering of /a/ has shifted from an ('grands', 'dans', 'tranquilles') to en(m) ('en septembre'): morning light ('de dix heures'), hence its freshness, yes, but autumnal, and the/abR(???)/of 'septembre' is already too close to /???bR(???)/ and too disfigured a version of/aRbr(???)/ - /a/ to /???/is front to back, from the open air to the withdrawn interior. Not surprisingly then, line 5, and more particularly the word 'fraiche', is a moment of final epiphany. This, the middle syllable (/[Epsilon]/) of the middle line of the second group, flanked by dodecasyllables, accompanied once again by a coupe enjambante (reinforced by the e atone of 'une') and by the rumbustious sound of the children (/k/), is an experiential high-point, intensified by the fact that 'fraiche' is preposed and that 'cascade' picks up the /a/ of 'arbres'. 'Fraiche' is the point at which the 'parental' poet is able to participate in his own image; but it is precisely that, of course, the only simile in the poem, the only point at which the 'making' skills of the poet are explicitly admitted ('comme').

What kind of conversion of natural phenomena is willed to occur here? It is as if, by the mediation of poetic inventiveness, the poet wished to intervene in the children's destiny, to give shape and purpose to an environment so rich in sensation. But in doing so, ironically, he has set time, which the simile and the coupe enjambante are designed to suspend, in motion again. The coupe enjambante is a special resource because it allows the poet to achieve that combination of 'movement' and 'measure' by which he seeks to grasp the landscape's respiration: the e atone draws the measure forward, links one measure with the next, but at the same time lengthens the accentuated vowel preceding it and thus gives movement more duration; in this fifth line, the coupe enjambante at 'fraiche' takes us both literally and metaphorically into the cascade, into time re-accelerated (hence 4+3).

The word that best expresses the contradictory pulls of movement and measure is 'encore', which plays something of the same role as 'fraiche'. This word which is filled with the pathos of imminent loss is a plea to the executioner Time to stay his hand, and contains within it the imperative to value at its highest the still there. But, of course, 'encore' not only increases the value of the about-to-be-lost, it correspondingly increases the weight of the imminence of that loss. The sixth line plays out this drama, again with great economy:

les abritent encore de l'enorme enclume

This dodecasyllabic line, which seems to cleave, almost, to the security of a standard tetrametric structure - 3+3+4+2 - is also a line which crosses a frontier. This return to the tetrametric is not surprising, given that the only other line which directly refers to the schoolchildren is tetrametric (line 1), though hendecasyllabic rather than dodecasyllabic. But even here their presence is minimal, in the object pronoun 'les'. 'Abritent' creates a coupe enjambante and is like a temporary recovery of /aRbR(???)/ (/abRit???/); it also includes the /i/ which has belonged to children ('cris') and trees ('tranquilles') alike. For its part, 'encore', too, maintains the articulation of its e, trying to make itself last as long as possible, and installs that balance, or repetition, of measures (3+3), which was a feature of the idyllic lull of lines 2-4. But it brings with it, too, the en orthography of /a/, which will justify 'enclume', just as its /???R/ will generate 'enorme'. In many senses, 'encore', like 'fraiche', is infused with the voice of the poet, because while it may help constitute a statement of fact, it has a considerable optative charge.

As we move into the second half of the line, so we move into a more vicissitudinal rhythm (4+2), into a refusal of coupe enjambante (elision of final e of 'enorme') and towards a preposed adjective, whose pre-positioning expresses apprehension, a sense of growing size, of threat, far removed from the invitation to linger in 'fraiche'. The security sought for, then, is ironically denied, and the the line has every reason to look back nostalgically to the dodecasyllable of line 4.

But the dark night sky, the weight of death, may not be quite as forbidding as it seems. This is not so much because of the consoling presence of the stars, struck off the anvil of the night like sparks, but for other reasons. Even in line 6, we may feel a second reversal already under weigh: 'enorme' reintroduces the acensional acute accent, the front unrounded /e/ of the 'ecoliers', a sound taken up by 'etincelle' and 'etoiles'. This sky is not weighing down after all, but being lifted by the light within it, the light as if reflected from the schoolchildren. The 'qui' of the relative takes us back to 'cris' and to 'tranquilles', and 'par-dela"rhymes' with 'cascade', its /a/, like the /a/ in 'etoiles', reminding us not only of downward-falling water but also of upward-reaching trees. 'Etoiles' itself, by its/wa/, takes us back to the beginning: 'On voit'; it is as if the stars in the sky were a keyhole to a beyond further off than 'beyond'. And although the hendecasyllable also takes us back to the first line, it is now trimetric rather than tetrametric, and is like an 'emboitage' of lines 4 and 5, light and water. Finally, one might note that 'etincelle' (/et[Epsilon]s[Epsilon]l/) is, in some respects, a curious re-writing of 'epaisse' (/ep[Epsilon]s/): as the dew-drenched blades of grass may scintillate with light, so the 'thick' night-sky may do likewise.

As we read this first poem, then, we are not looking so much for regularities, an underlying pattern, a resolution. Instead, we operate inductively, letting the acoustic echoes and the rhythms freely unfold, without prejudice, letting them suggest their own kinships and constants. So what procedure is the translator to follow? Both available translations, by Derek Mahon(6) and by Mark Treharne and David Constantine,(7) stick to Jaccottet's lineation:
The children run shouting                           x/xx/x or x/x//x
in the thick grass of the playground.               xx//xx/x

The tall tranquil trees                             x//x/
and the torrential light                            xxx/x/
of a September morning                              xxx/x/x
protect them still from the anvil                   x/x/xx/x
sparkling with stars up there.                      /xx/x/

We see the schoolchildren who run and shout         x/x/xxx/x/
in the grassy playing-place.                        xx/x/x/

By the tall calm trees                              xx///
and the September mid-morning light                 xxx/xx/x/
as by a cool cascade                                xxx/x/
they are still shielded from the giant anvil        xx//xxx/x/x
throwing off sparks and stars in a near distance    /xx/x/xx//x
(Treharne and Constantine)

My concern here is not with lexical choices but with structural distribution. There are hardly any signs in the translations - how could there be? - of syllabic or rhythmic equivalences with the source text, or of equivalent acousticity and patterns of articulation. We may notice, in Mahon's first two lines, the cohesive /I/, set to reappear later ('tranquil', 'still', 'anvil', 'sparkling'), and the off-rhyming/a???/, which makes '-ground' suddenly resonant; and out of 'grass' grows the cluster of sounds generated by the grapheme 'a': /a:/ ('grass', 'sparkling', 'stars');/???:/('tall', 'morning');/ae/('tranquil', 'anvil'). In lines 3-7,/t/ is markedly insistent. Some of these same effects are to be found in Treharne and Constantine: the presence of /a:/ is intensified; /eI/ is more conspicuous ('playing-place', 'cascade'), and /k/ ('calm', 'cool cascade') is given a role as crucial perhaps as the source text's /[Epsilon]/.

Rhythmically noticeable are the clusters of adjacent stresses in Mahon's first three lines (I prefer the syncopated x/x//x reading of the first line) and those that appear periodically in Treharne and Constantine's lines 3-7. Both versions share, too, weak-syllabled openings to all lines except the last, most aerating in effect in lines 45, which, in both versions, begin with fourth paeons.

But is this a sufficiently fundamental re-engineering? Imagining oneself in Jaccottet's imaginative space at the same time as one refashions the verse garment to fit one's own physiology, that is the task. We should not, of course, deceive ourselves: much of what any poetry says to us is made from the accidents of acousticity, from a verbal surface that even the most systematic writer cannot control. There are many suggestive connections to be found in the versions of Mahon and of Treharne and Constantine. My 'quarrel' with them is twofold: first, their inertial attitude to lineation (what is it really worth as faithfulness, anyway?) makes all their guile and invention the more invisible; secondly, free verse is a medium which positively demands to be exploited not only for purposes of structural projection and 'enhancement', but also maximally to communicate the translator's own responsive/expressive contact with the source text.

In my own version:
1. You can see the children                 xx/x/x (6)
2. running                                  /x (2)
3. with loud                                x/(2)
4. shouts                                   / (1)
5. in the lush grass                        xx//(4)
6. of the school yard.                      xx//(4)
7. The tall trees                           x//(3)
8. unruffled                                x/x (3)
9. and the ten o'clock                      xx/x/(5)
10. September                               x/x (3)
11. light                                   / (1)
12. like fresh                              x/(2)
13. and tumbling                            x/x (3)
14. water                                   /x (2)
15. still shelter them                      x/xx or//xx (4)
16. from the huge anvil                     xx//x (5)
17. glittering with stars                   /xxx/ (5)
18. beyond.                                 x/ (2)

I have tried to activate two rhythmic impulses, the ionic (xx//) and the amphibrachic (x/x). The ionic emerges in lines 5-6 (I have written 'school yard' as two words to create the double stress), after having been half heard across lines 2-4. The second 'stanza' opens with a shortened ionic (as 'hauts' echoes 'preau' perhaps) and moves immediately, with 'unruffled', into the amphibrachic. This foot is the cantabile of 'September', 'and tumbling', and 'still shelter (them)'. But this last measure is deliberately ambiguous: 'still shelter them' may also be a reversed or falling ionic, creating a chiastic pattern with the following, rising ionic (+ extra feminine syllable), 'from the huge anvil'. This rhythmic dialectic confirms that irrepressible upwardness in the downward that our earlier analysis found in the source text.

In my syllabification of the opening lines I have tried to maintain the disyllabic (and monosyllabic) unit as an agent of dynamic thrust, and, instead of allowing a claustral colouring - see French line 6 - to intervene, have tried to preserve it as a marker of movement and space in later lines. My lines 5-6 echo the 4+4 of the French line 2, and my four previous lines add up to the eleven syllables of the source text's initial hendecasyllable. The trisyllabic lines 7 and 8 take up the 3+3 of the French line 3, and reverberate with the 3/3 configuration of the opening hexasyllable (the amphibrachic 'unruffled' draws out, in retrospect, the equally amphibrachic 'the children'). After these syllabic cross-references to the French, the syllabic pattern pursues its own purposes; but as we have already seen with the disyllable (monosyllable), the expressive values of some of the measures are still haunted by the source text: the 4 at line 15, for example, inherits the pacifying reassurance of both its earlier appearances and its French model. The difference lies in the development of the pentasyllable, a measure not to be found in the source text. That the pentasyllable should set line 17 against line 16 seems crucial: the extended choriamb of line 17 (/xxx/) generates space in the rising ionic of line 16, and is thus able to launch the reader into 'beyond'. Line 9 is the adumbration, a point in time which releases the light able to reformulate itself as an escape from the anvil of darkness.

The uses of lineation here are threefold. As we have seen, lineation is most valuable as a device with which to isolate syllabic and rhythmic measures so that they may the better function as a meaningful and interactive disposition. Clearly, too, lineation can easily shade into an iconic function: here, in particular, changing margins enact the traversal of space; the break between 'loud' and 'shouts' multiplies the shouts, makes one answer another; and the September light falls like water from the trees into water which itself is falling. Finally, each stanza ends on the innermost margin, as if moving to a destination at the bottom right. The sense of destinations glimpsed or enabled is an abiding concern of Jaccottet's verse, as we shall see.

The fourth poem in Jaccottet's cycle takes up the challenge of the 'encore' which is still a viable destination. But to begin with, we have a woman at her mirror:
1. Elle s'approche du miroir rond        4+4+1
2. comme une bouche d'enfant             4+3
3. qui ne sait pas mentir,               4+2
4. vetue d'une robe de chambre bleue     2+6+2
5. qui s'use elle aussi.                 2+3
6. Cheveux bientot couleur de cendre     2+4+2/4+4/2+2+4/2+2+2+2
7. sous le tres lent feu du temps.       5+2
8. Le soleil du petit marin              3+5
9. fortifie encore son ombre.            5+3

The destination, the fulfilment of this poem, is a couplet of octosyllables, whose rhythmic structures mirror and complement each other. The sun ('o') in the sun ('soleil') is reflected in, or projects itself into, the sun in the shadow ('ombre'); indeed the whole final line is saturated with sunlight, particularly realized as golden: 'fortifie', 'encore' - and the coupe enjambante in 'enco:/re' carries it forward, rather than being the final hook by which it desperately clings to survival (see first poem in cycle), and its/???R/ confirms an already existing state ('fortifie'), rather than being a wish rudely snatched from it by a following altered state ('enorme' in first poem). So, in this final line the sun produces different paired sounds of itself - /???R/ + /???R/ [greater than] /???/ + /???/ - as interlinear reflections become intralinear ones.

This final reciprocated plenitude is only arrived at after a difficult journey. The previous couplet contemplates the 'bientot' of imminent deterioration rather than the 'encore' of sustained radiance. Rhythmically, we witness a process of erosion and fragmentation: the line shortens by a syllable (8 [greater than] 7) and the elements within the lines resist rhythmic cohesion: 'bientot' is difficult to assimilate rhythmically, and the line unravels itself into an expressionless sequence of disyllables; the second line has a more easily identifiable syntactic shape, but this remains hardly perceptible given its flat string of monosyllables and the awkward pre-modifying construction ('le tres lent feu'). This is a couplet which rhymes on an /a/we have come to recognize as inimical, and the /a/ in 'lent' tells us that this phoneme is not a phoneme of time in general, but of a time propelled by a slow and patient gradualism.

The poem's first stanza, where the 'o' of the sun is concealed not only in the mirror and the child's mouth, but also in the worn 'robe de chambre', is in two movements, both of which also produce patterns of syllabic shrinkage: 9.7.6.//10.5. Noticeable, too, is the loss of main-clause finite verbs: after 'Elle s'approche', we move into a sequence which includes two relative clauses, a participial phrase and a notational couplet whose verbal force is in the adverb 'bientot'. Only in the final couplet of the poem is main-clause verbal activity recovered.

If ultimately this poem manages to turn probable defeat into temporary respite, then it is because it manages to turn the verb which is only reflexively transitive into a verb whose object is elsewhere and opposite. The mirror principle, which is found in the reflexivity of 's'approche' and 's'use', is a principle whereby the confrontation of the same with the same is reciprocally atrophying - here it is as if 'aussi' refers not only to the dressing-gown as well as to the woman, but also to the real dressing gown as well as the mirror-image. Fortunately, the transitive relationship of complementarity enjoyed by the elements in the final couplet arrives with a reprieve, but only for as long as the 'encore' will last.

My own version of this poem(8) runs:
1. She comes to the mirror as round          x/xx/xx/ (8)
2. as the mouth                              xx/ (3)
3. of a child                                xx/ (3)
4. unpractised                               x/x (3)
5. in lying                                  x/x (3)
6. dressed in a blue                         /xx/ (4)
7. dressing-gown                             /x/ (3)
8. itself showing                            x/xx (4)
9. signs of wear.                            /x/ (3)
10. Hair turning ash grey                    /xx// (5)
11. in the slow-burning                      xx//x (5)
12. flames                                   / (1)
13. of time.                                 x/ (2)
14. The early morning sun                    x/x/x/ (6)
15. still                                    / (1)
16. fortifies                                /xx (3)
17. her shadow.                              x/x (3)

Two characteristics will be immediately apparent: instead of salvaging last-minute order, as Jaccottet does, from movements of erosion and fragmentation, I have apparently repeated in the third stanza the disaggregational processes of the first and second; and I have made my music from variations on a trisyllabic foot. The iconic design, along with its overtones of 'destinationality', is intended to embody those signs of wear which are the poem's preoccupation; but such signs may be deceptive, thanks to the reversibility of, or relationship of dialectical complementarity between - see the rhythm of Jaccottet's final lines - the principal forms of the trisyllabic foot used here: the amphibrach (x/x) (the 'benign' foot of our first poem) and the amphimacer (/x/).

Each stanza begins with a line of confidently continuous discourse which is then broken down. In the first stanza, after two anapaests at lines 2-3, two amphibrachs (lines 4-5), the lines of the child, are interrupted by a choriamb (line 6), which serves to install the amphimacers of the worn dressing-gown (lines 7 and 9). In the second stanza, the pentasyllabic measure of the first line is sustained in the second (note the internal rhyme 'turning'/'burning'), only to disintegrate the more quickly in lines 12-13, which, not surprisingly, together add up to an amphimacer. Finally, the even iambic trimeter of line 14 leads us into the rhythmically unresolved 'fortifies' (dactyl-with-hints-of-amphimacer), out of which is snatched the albeit dangerously fissured amphibrach 'her shadow'. The self-dissociative activity of the mirror (reflexive verbs in the source text) is echoed in the sun's action: its very capacity to fortify entails a sharper separation of self and shadow. I have retained 'fortifies' not only because of its trisyllabicity, but also because of its acoustic connections with 'flames' (/f/), 'morning' (/???:/,/I/) and 'still' (/I/). My version also maintains the polarization of main clauses between the opening and closing lines and the suggestive activity of the grapheme 'o', both already commented upon in the analysis of the source text.

Free verse, and the principle of discontinuous sequence within it, allows homogeneous, linear time to be counteracted, if not replaced by the heterogeneous quality of lived experience. Free verse offers the continual renewal of unpredictable development and unprejudicial exploration of response. At the same time, it releases certain rough sketches of pattern, measure, progression, which do not sacrifice the verse's mobility, but give us a sense of design, of something we can retain and draw sustenance from. As readers of free verse, we must extend our competence, or rather confidence, since no textbook will tell us what we should be looking for in nonmetrical verse-structures. We need to relate to the poem, rather than 'read' it, get to know its preferences and quirks, and our own at the same time. The inbuilt variability of free verse makes it a wonderfully European medium, able to accommodate itself to poets and their translators alike.


1. D. H. Lawrence, The Complete Poems, ed. by Vivian de Sola Pinto and F. Warren Roberts (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1977), 185.

2. Yves Bonnefoy, 'On the translation of form in poetry', World Literature Today, liii (1979), 378.

3. Bonnefoy, 377.

4. I recognize here the force of a counter-argument which runs: 'A translation should not hide potential schisms between form and meaning; on the contrary, it should parade them; by this device the reader maintains a necessary awareness of the translation's metatextual status.'

5. Philippe Jaccottet, A la lumiere d'hiver suivi de Pensees sous les nuages (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 103-12.

6. Philippe Jaccottet, Selected Poems, trans. by Derek Mahon (London: Penguin, 1988), 152-3.

7. Philippe Jaccottet, Under Clouded Skies and Beauregard/Perishes sous les nuages et Beauregard, trans. by Mark Treharne and David Constantine (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1994), 45-51.

8. For the sake of possible comparison, I give here also the versions of Mahon:

Wrapped in a blue bath-robe which is wearing out too, she goes to a mirror round like the mouth of a child who doesn't know how to lie.

Hair the colour of ash now in the slow burn of time;

and yet the morning sun quickens her shadow still.

and of Treharne and Constantine:

She comes to the mirror. The mirror is round like a child's mouth that cannot tell a lie. She is wearing a blue dressing-gown it too getting worn.

Hair soon the colour of ash in the very slow fire of time.

The early morning sun strengthens her shadow still.

Once again, despite some syntactic re-ordering in the first stanza of the Mahon, and despite some punctuational changes in both versions, the lineation of the source text is respected.
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Author:Scott, Clive
Publication:Journal of European Studies
Date:Dec 1, 1998
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