August 06, 2006

"Tartars, Uzbecks ..." - Mandelstam

Tartars, Uzbecks and the Nenetz people
And the entire Ukrainian nation,
Even the tribes of the Volga Germans
Await the coming of the translators.

And as I write, some Japanese
Is translating me perhaps
Into Turkish, baring all
The inner mysteries of my soul

- An 'imitation' of Osip Mandelstam by Rosemary Dobson and David Campbell

I was moved and amused by this, in the context of this site. It's from a long out-of-print work by Australian poets Rosemary Dobson (still going strong) and David Campbell (who died in 1979), called Seven Russian Poets, UQP, 1979.

The two poets worked with translators Olga Hassanoff and later with well-known Australian author, Robert Dessaix, on developing their versions of poems by Mandelstan, Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva, Olga Berggolts, Bella Akhmadulina, Natalia Gorbanevskaia and Yunna Morits. Dobson and Campbell explicitly state: "We do not present these poems as translations but rather as imitations of the originals, re-created in English". Some of the translations of each poem are joint translations and some are what they considered to be the 'best' from either version completed.


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