Vesna Suljić


This paper is an attempt to describe the process through which a translator
needs to go when translating poetry. Poetry has been part of human
civilization since the earliest times; it has derived from the oral tradition
and has evolved through centuries into a distinct genre with particular
characteristics in terms of structure, form, style, language and other
specific features which differentiate it from prose. In the past, poetry
has been translated mostly by poets; nevertheless, it seems possible that
an individual who has been properly trained and with some practice
and passion can produce good quality translation of poetic works.
An exercise in translation of a seventeenth-century poem by Andrew
Marvell in this paper is based on theory of equivalence to show several
aspects of translating, namely the visual, semantic and aesthetic ones,
which could pose challenges for translators but which could be addressed
and overcome with adequate training. The translator needs to approach
a poem and use equivalent means as much as possible to re-create the
work by bridging the gaps pertaining to cultural, historical and linguistic
codes. The purpose of this exercise is to draw attention to the need of
incorporating translating of poetry into the formal translation studies at
universities or other institutions dealing with training translators. It also
strives to encourage other translators, as well as students and translating
instructors to find more poetic works which have been overlooked in the
past and which should be translated so that not only the English speakers
can revel in their beauty and enchantment.


translating poetry, translator training, translation challenges

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