So I am still writing poetry, Haiku, Senryu and Haibun have my attention at the moment. I have even submitted a couple of reworked poems to some paying markets. But I wanted to talk a little bit about the power of translations or perhaps of translators.
Now I read ( I am fairly sure in some writings of Jane Reichhold’s) that the early translators of Japanese Haiku, were not poets and didn’t understand some of the technical restrictions around the form – ie the season words and the allusions to classical Japanese and Chinese literature. Consequently the haiku can be somewhat sparse, lacking some of the original emphasis of the Japanese version.
But even then the choices made by modern translators can have significant effect.
One of my favourite haiku is by Issa:
the village is flooded
It’s the only Haiku where I have experienced the aha moment, that moment of surprise when Issa switches us from disaster to joy. The only thing is I don’t know if this is an accurate translation.
I have read it translated also as:
the village brimming over...
Almost different poems yes?