Joshua Kronengold (mneme) wrote,
Joshua Kronengold

Sonnet: On Translation

nineweaving is, understandably, upset that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is commissioning a set of scripts with updated language.

papersky responded, with a sonnet on how Shakespere outlives attempts at improving him. (True).

I take a more moderate view, however, seeing as how most companies murder shakespeare in order to perform his work in the first place:

All translators are liars, say'th the sage,
They change the words, and so some bits are lost
When change is made twixt tongues, then that's the cost,
For good or ill, translation makes a different page,

The stage, too, leaves things changed, or else destroyed,
As text is turned to something rich and strange,
Or if not needed, dropped, or rearranged,
And naught may make this journey unalloyed.

And yet, without these crimes, for us is moot
Nine tenths of all the work of wealth and worth,
We cannot learn all tongues that span the earth,
Unless we spend our days in that pursuit.

Change what you must, and work with no remorse,
It is no loss as long as one can find your source.
Tags: poetry, sonnet
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