Sunday, July 28, 2013


The Translator's Apology

Clive Wilmer, "The Translator's Apology," in New and Collected Poems (Manchester: Carcanet, 2012), p. 157:
for Patrick McGuinness

I have been faithful to the text, after my own fashion.
There have been other adventures, other assignations,
Over and over, with words mouthed and whispered.
But I am faithful in spirit.
If I have gone astray,
If I have deviated into paraphrase,
If I have gone half mad with imitation,
It has always been that some other dusky beauty
Reflected the original, a transitory embodiment.
Forgive me! Truth is my real goal.
Who that laid hands on that perfect form
Could do other than stay with that in perfect constancy?
The opening line echoes the refrain from Ernest Dowson's poem "Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae":
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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