It was not long before I had stammered myself into a proper humiliation. And now, forty years and as many attempts later, I have still failed to translate these four lines adequately. ‘Goth’: is it ‘goes’, or ‘sinks’, or ‘sets’, or what? ‘Under’: is it ‘under’, or ‘below’, or ‘behind’, or ‘beyond’, or what? And how, ever, could the verb ‘me reweth’ be adequately translated? In its utterly self-sufficient simplicity, this poem has ever since haunted me as a reminder of the fragility of the translator’s art.
KÖNIGSBLAU and a four-line early English poem remained back-stage during a career largely taken up with other concerns: teaching and research in English Romantic literature, especially the poetry of John Clare, and administrative work as a Dean of Arts and Humanities. But recent years have provided the opportunity to engage again in that boyish fascination with words and their differences, and with the question of how best to bridge those differences through translation. On average, three major works or writers are added to the site each year, and this introduction of new material will, I hope, be sustained for the foreseeable future.
Copyright is owned for all the material on this site. However, in the spirit of co-operation and mutuality that all translation embraces, I am pleased to give permission for the translations and accompanying material on the site to be copied, on condition only that the customary appropriate acknowledgements are made, and that the copying is not undertaken for profit.