"Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes": "You will excuse me if I do not begin to cry."

In my last post, I discussed the unfortunate marriage of Emily Dickinson's poems to "The Yellow Rose of Texas."  This post and its successor turn to an equally unlikely pairing of poem and music that produced an extraordinarily serendipitous outcome, one that ought to lead to a recording contract for one of my students.  Before I get there, I'd like to provide a little background.

Poetry and Shining Nakedness

I might be a specialist in twentieth-century American poetry, but in my spare time late at night I have been translating Russian verse.  Since neither the TV nor the cat care, this blog has provided a welcome outlet for sharing my discoveries.  My current fixation is the poet Afanasii Fet (1820-1892).

Fet to be Tied

This week's reading has been Boris Bukhshtab's A.A. Fet: ocherk zhizni i tvorchestva (Leningrad 1974), a short survey of the life and works of Afanasii Fet, a mid-to-late nineteenth-century Russian poet whose name might be unfamiliar to American audiences but some of whose verse is nonetheless absolutely first-rate.

Night's Light

I was writing a different post, but yesterday someone broke into our house and stole assorted things, including my laptop.  Farewell, my Sony Vaio, we had some good times.  After adversity, one seeks distraction.  I went straight to one of the most beautiful poems in the Russian language, Afanasii Fet's "Shëpot, robkoe dykhanie" (1850).  

Here Comes the Rain Again

Fall has arrived in Seattle.  The first cold rain began on Friday.  I've been holed up at home, avoiding the wet as long as possible.  While going through boxes in my office, I came across a book that I must have bought in Moscow in 1990, though I can't remember doing so:  Nikolai Nekrasov's Selected Works

Poetry and nobility

'There is no element more conspicuously absent from contemporary poetry than nobility', Stevens wrote. Perhaps in a very literal way we should restore 'nobility' to the history of contemporary poetry, if for no other reason than because it seems foreign to the field?

Tempting Translations

Commentary can help a reader appreciate what's left out when a poem is translated from one language to another.  It can also be daunting.  Unless you're truly convinced that the original version of the poem is absolutely first-rate, why would you ever want to spend time with aridly philological blah-de-blah?

Everything Everyone Translates

Poetry translates badly:  granted.  A poem’s diction, tone, syntax, and sound—the things that make it memorable—cannot be fully reproduced in another language.  Agreed.  So, what are we to do?  Give up?  Limit ourselves to verse we can read in the original?  Such a decision seems foolish in an era when globalization has become an idée fixe.