The astonishing collection of the translations Robert Bly has been producing for more than fifty years, introducing foreign poets to American readers for the first time.
Robert Bly has always been amazingly prescient in his choice of poets to translate. The poetry he selected supplied qualities that seemed lacking from the literary culture of this country. At a time when editors and readers knew only Eliot and Pound, Bly introduced Neruda, Vallejo, Trakl, Jiménez, Traströmer, and Rumi. His most recent translations include Rolf Jacobsen, Francis Ponge, and the nineteenth-century Indian poet Ghalib. Here, in The Winged Energy of Delight, the poems of twenty-two renowned and lesser-known poets from around the world are brought together. As Kenneth Rexroth has said, Robert Bly "is one of the leaders of a poetic revival that has returned American literature to the world community."
Bly's translations of poems by writers as geographically and historically diverse as Basho, Rumi, Neruda, Lorca, Ponge, and Transtramer helped introduce American poets to a wealth of imagistic poetry that would manifest its influence in the Deep Image and neosurrealist styles of the 1960s and 1970s. Here, his selection of work by 20 poets "engaged in an explosive attention to metaphor" emphasizes the visual over the rhetorical, the evocative ("I am carried inside/ my own shadow like a violin/ in its black case"-Transtr mer) over the narrative. Though Bly's interests extend from classical (Horace) to ecstatic (Kabir) poetries, he seems most assured when channeling the dark lyricism of the Scandinavian poets. Rothenberg shares several of Bly's subjects (Neruda, Lorca), but what attracts him to translation is sound, rhythm, and the challenge of conveying the ritual of poetic experience-"what comes to us as a larger human meaning"-via unconventional "forms of languaging." An experimental poet, Rothenberg regards translation itself as "a form of composition" that offers opportunities for improvisation and extension. Selected from four decades of work, Writing Through ranges from translations of contemporary German poets, Dada poets, Picasso, and others, to Rothenberg's pioneering work with oral Native American and Hebrew traditions, to his aleatory projects with Lorca's Suites and Jewish numerology. Taken together, these volumes constitute a valuable document in the history of how multicultural influences have affected the course of American poetry. Recommended for most poetry collections.-Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.