Tu Fu from 1967, and François Chengs aforementioned writings in French, were all influential to American poets from Charles Reznikoff to Stanley Kunitz to Gustaf Sobin. How can their act be seen as impossible when it so clearly happens all the time? A second reason for diffidence has been a reluctance in this book to emphasize the practice of translationhow, for example, to translate Greek or Spanish verse or verbs into English. In many eyes translation resembles a museum reproduction of a Cycladic statue: it is beautiful but has no intrinsic value. Colonial translation is a one-way exchange, a tool of the dominant culture to assimilate myths and histories of the colonized culture and altering customs, phrases and intent so that these stories fit within the recognized confines of the new culture.
The questions I am able to ask are less about semantics and more along the lines of what is present, what is absent, and what are the ways I can interpret a poem whose language is anathema to me? The weeds and cold clouds in the last line suggest not. Of course, scholars are often as misled by their own cross-cultural fantasies as they are devoted to hard science. Some might even imply that the discursive style into which East Asian poetry has been translated since Pound only reveals the racism behind the enterprise of translating Chinese into English (how many times was Pound mentioned, for instance, as paving the way for Yi-Fen Chou. Intercultural relations are increasingly a part of day-to-day life.
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