Associate Professor Peter Anderson, senior lecturer, English Department, University of Cape Town

Central to the argument of this short series on translated poetry is the idea that all poems begin as a translation of reality itself, and that in a certain light, poetry – that most difficult and obdurate of genres – in fact asks and receives translation better than we might expect. This idea will be the peroration drawn around the close reading of five splendid poems by the Greek Sappho, the Roman Horace, the Italian Leopardi, the Polish Zbigniew Herbert, and the Romanian-born, but German-speaking Paul Celan.


We will read:

1. Sappho ‘Voight 16 (papyrus)’ in Diane Rayor’s translation and Robert Lowell’s version ‘Three Letters to Anaktoria’ (2)

2.  Horace’s famous Odes 3, 13 in James Michie’s translation (and perhaps some others)

3.  Leopardi in Lowell’s ‘imitation’, ‘Saturday Night in the Village’

4. Zbigniew Herbert’s ‘To Ryszard Krynicki – A Letter’, translated by Alissa Valles. Or see John and Bogdana Carpenter’s version

5.  Paul Celan, ‘Death Fugue’, translated by Michael Hamburger

Poems will be supplied and our object will be a close critical reading with one eye constantly on the way in which the project (and problems) of translation constantly inform us better as to what it is poetry is trying to do in the world.





DATE: Monday 24–Friday 28 January
TIME: 5.00 pm
COURSE FEES: R375 (online)/R550 (in person)