A response in the form of a poem

We are delighted to post a response in the form of a poem, a concise reflection on the work of the translator, on translating myth and on our visual translation of Pygmalion ‘Written on her ivory skin’:

You will try to become the author they pay

you to translate. You will sit and read letters,

snap up each bio, look into the economic decline

that went mad one year and allowed him to stage his work.

You can stage. You can hoist up the curtain

in a way that cracks the wrists, and push out to act

character after character to say your words,

not his, though it is not your name in lights.

Or look to the Greeks. They were superficial.

They were profound. Because nothing is hidden,

nothing is arcane, lost in some dim volume

in some dim bookshop in some dim Berlin back yard.

Nothing is hidden. Take that statue, collected in the museum,

nude to an apple but coming out of Greece,

and spot her breathe as you sip an espresso,

wondering which card to send to Jerome.

Feel. You write on the skin. Your translator’s tattoo.

Philip Wilson

© (Philip Wilson) 2013

Philip Wilson has translated Luther and the forthcoming historical novel Fortuna’s Smile by Rebecca Gable. He has recently completed a doctorate on the relevance to literary translation of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and has become interested in the image of translation as tattoo since reading this blog.

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