I came into English through Lord Byron’s poem ‘So we’ll go no more a roving so late into the night’ included in Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles one night at the Congress Library in Buenos Aires when researching the slave trade for a high school project and among the sea of library cards, I’m sure you remember, Bradbury popped up.
The book was in Spanish, of course. And the poem was in Spanish too. I didn’t think much of it until I read the fine print in English which I loved and remains one of the few poems I ever memorized (or at least tried).
That day I realized it was futile to translate poetry. Later in the US, I bought a book with Lorca’s poems which had English translations. I wanted to read Lorca, but I was in the US and this was the only book Barnes and Noble had with his poems, so again, I got his poems with an English translation. Again, I was not impressed with the translations.
(Unless of course one goes to Leonard Cohen’s interpretation of Take this Waltz which is a translation of Pequeño Vals Vienes which if you have the chance is interpreted by a group I believe from Galicia Spain called Barahúnda, which was a poem composed by Lorca).
I was going to conclude this note by stating translating poetry is futile. But now I think, maybe it’s not.