Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I've been kind of down, and busy, and busy, and out, but I did want to mention that Vienna is beautiful and stately and dense. Mostly the blocks of buildings are imposing, but also grand and occasionally delicate. It's a very grown-up city. The distractions and pleasures are not light or quick. The city park is pretty for a stroll, but not for playing. I'd love to go back as a real tourist. With free time and a camera.

The highlight of my visit to Michi was sitting at her table listening to her read Tomas Transtromer's "Schubertiana," a wonderful poem. I ordered his Collected Poems this morning, translated by Robin Fulton. God, I hope the translations are good - you never know. Michi's translator was Robert Bly, and I do like his translations generally, but the Fulton book looked so,, complete. We read a few other poems, too, at random, but none were as good as "Schubertiana." Even Szymborska's "Conversation with a Stone," such a great poem, couldn't kindle half the pleasure of it read aloud. Unfortunately it's nowhere on the internet I can find, in English at least.


Dave said...

I love that Fulton Collected Poems volume. I read over and over, obsessively, last winter and spring. Bly, on the other hand, is a translator who puts way too much of himself into his translations, IMO.

Rob said...

I have the Fulton Collected. It's very good. I've heard people say that Samuel Charters's translation of Transtromer's long-ish poem 'Baltics' is worth getting hold of in itself, but it's hard to find at an affordable price. Fulton's translation of it worked well for me, but I would like to see the Charters to find out why everyone who's read it loves it so much.

SarahJane said...

I'm glad to hear you both like the Fulton translations - you can really go wrong with translations. I'll be in the states next week, so I sent it to my mother there. Another thing to look forward to.

Dave - interesting your comment on Bly. I kind of understand what you mean. Still I have a small book of his translations of Jimenez and Lorca that I like a lot.

Rob - how long is the poem? Like a book in itself?

Dave said...

It's because I know Spanish (somewhat) that i am so wary of his translations. But he's far from the most arrogant translator out there.

Yes, Baltics is a chapbook-length poem that mingles geography and family history. Terrific stuff. I haven't seen this other translation Rob speaks of.

Rob said...

The Charters translation of Baltics (1975) is available secondhand, usually at outrageous prices - if you google it, you'll see what I mean! But now and again, I've heard of people getting it for an almost normal price, presumably from sellers who don't know what it's worth, so it's worth checking every now and again.

Amazon UK marketplace sellers have it at the moment for about £60/$120, so no joy there.

michi said...

awww, sarah, that's lovely! i am glad you suggested and enjoyed the little poetry reading "session".

i found the fulton translation of schubertiana here.

i speak some swedish, and i quite like the bly translations, but have not read fulton's translations (except "schubertiana").

hope to see you again soon, sarah,

m x

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Transtromer is one of the greats, and "Schubertiana," among his best. Fulton's translations are good, but my preference is Bly.

SarahJane said...

People are no longer allowed to have different opinions. And everyone's translation of a poem has to be the same as everyone else's.
makes life easier.

Beau Blue said...

The last time I was in Vienna was in 1966. I wonder how much it's changed. -blue

michi said...

beau, only one way to find out! :)

i bet it's changed a lot. not that i know what it was like in 1966. :)


Lars Palm said...

being swedish & knowing some of fulton's other work i'd say he'd be the translator to trust with doing a good job with tranströmer. however having had mr t up my nose i haven't really tried them. baltics is the one tranströmer poem i never knew why i should read, never got beyond the first five pages. give me "november" (a later poem) any day

"When the hangman's bored he gets dangerous"


SarahJane said...

michi - thanks for the link by the way.
lars - glad to hear you like fulton, too, though I guess reading Tranströmer in Swedish eliminates the translation conundrum altogether.

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