Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Translation (The What)

I’ll admit it’s important. However, I also know arriving at the best text is an extremely complicated matter. Seeing I’m not a classicist, am not able to read the Iliad in Greek, and know nothing about the texts under consideration, I will just have to plead ignorance.

Knowing that the earliest full text of the New Testament dates to the 4th century AD, I was very surprised to learn that for the Iliad (Venetus A) it is the 10th century AD.

I really liked what Mitchell says in his Introduction:

“I am under no illusion that I have translated the original text of the Iliad, as written or dictated by the anonymous poet called Homer-just the most intelligent attempt we have at getting back to an original, and a text that I could use as the basis for the most intense possible poetic experience in English.”


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3 thoughts on “Translation (The What)

  1. I beg to differ. The most intense possible poetic experience in English can only come from poets who write in ENGLISH. In their on language and within their culture. Every translation is only an approximate rendition – more or less – of another mind set and of another very different way to use the language. A ghost – at times beautiful – of the original. Period.


    • Largely, I agree with Veresillia–I think something is lost in translation. However, I’m willing to accept the possibility that the translated work might could possibly be superior to the original work (and not being able to read a foreign language well enough to test this theory, it’s just a supposition), although I’ve never seen an instance of that.


  2. I’m sure Mitchell agrees as well.

    Not knowing Hebrew, it’s impossible for me to say how the original Old Testament reads. But being very familiar with the King James Version I can say that there are passages from it that are every bit as glorious as Shakespeare.


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