Apologia Pro Translations Sua
February 01, 2019
I periodically translate poems. Initially, they will be Spanish poems; one day, hopefully, also other languages, but Spanish was my first—and is, currently, my only second—language. I am not aiming for literalness. I am also not aiming at “free translation”, understood as departing from literalness in a more holistic attempt to capture the meaning and force of the original in my language and cultural context.
I would call my translations “dialogical” because they attempt to bring to rest in some words my felt need to respond to these poems. In the modal case, dialogical translation will hew close to ordinary translation, because I mostly want to respond by finding words in my own language for the images, thoughts, and sentiment I am encountering in the original, incorporating them into my native sound and sense worlds. Occasionally, however, I take suggestions from the poems in new directions, some of them even contraindicated by the originals, moving the sensibility closer to my own aspirations—mindful, secular, non-dualistic.