Other Words: Essays on Poetry and Translation

Other Words: Essays on Poetry and Translation

Other Words: Essays on Poetry and Translation

Other Words: Essays on Poetry and Translation


In this collection of essays the author discusses the process of translation both generally and with reference to specific examples, offering particular insights into the kind of choices which a translator is constantly obliged to make.


My first thought was to call this collection On Occasion, since it chiefly consists of responses to requests for a lecture or an article. the origins in most cases provide contexts for the essays, and I have therefore stated these in headnotes rather than on a page of acknowledgements.

Other Words, though, has seemed the most appropriate title. Because of the reference to translation, to be sure, with which a number of these essays are concerned, but also because poetry is a use of words other than ordinary discourse. Last, and not least, because these pieces should be seen primarily as offshoots, by-products, notes from a poettranslator’s workshop.

What that means, frankly, is that this is a fairly egocentric book though no more so, I suppose, than most collections of one’s poetry. Two essays, however, while including my translations, attempt critiques of major authors, and translation itself can be considered a mode of criticism, a way of interpreting and calling attention to the work of other writers – to be effective it must be more than selfserving.

I have made some changes in every essay, usually to clarify points or improve the style. What did not permit revision was a certain amount of repetition, in pieces that originated and are still designed to be read independently. the repetitions can perhaps be thought of as variations on certain themes if the book is considered as a whole.

One of these themes, seemingly unavoidable in discussions of modern Welsh literature, is national identity, Welshness, Cymreictod. My semi-detached observations on this, for whatever they’re worth, are best considered within the contexts of the particular essays, but it may be helpful to explain here where, quite literally, I am coming from. I was born, raised and educated, lived and worked in New York City until I retired from college teaching in 1990 and moved to Aberystwyth. My parents were also native New Yorkers. Both of my . . .

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