Richard Jeffrey Newman's Miscellany


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There can be no doubt that many poems—even many great poems—would gain by being translated into the very language they were written in. This brings up the problem as to whether it is art or the artist that matters, the individual or the product. If it be the final result that matters and that shall give delight, then we are justified in taking a famous poet’s all but perfect poem, and, in the light of the criticism of another age, making it perfect by excision, substitution, or addition. Wordsworth’s “Ode on Immortality” is a great poem, but it’s far from being a perfect poem. It could be rehandled to advantage.

–Fernando Pessoa, “The Art of Translation”