TRANSLATION AS THE SINE QUA NON IN MODERN AMERICAN POETICS
This essay is based largely on the theory of translation set forth by Walter Benjamin in the 1923 essay "The Task of the Translator," which introduced his translation of Baudelaire's "Tableaux parisiens." It attempts to show that modernist and postmoderhist American poetry, beginning with the symbolist movement in America concurrent with Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot's seminal poetic texts that initiated the imagist movement and the high modernist style of writing, conform to Benjamin's ideas about "a pure language" and translation as a means of renewing the language. The argument hinges on the idea implied by Benjamin that translation may be defined as much more than the rewriting of a text in another language and that all writing may be viewed as a form of translation: a process, that is, of recreating or renewing a language through the translation of an "original" text which has "ripened" to the point that it becomes a vehicle for furthering the linguistic possibilities of the "target" language. It concludes by showing how these early to mid-twentieth-century movements culminated in the group of postmodernist poets who became known as "The New York School," with a particular focus on the poetry of John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and Frank O'Hara, the three poets who found their own styles and voices to a large extent through their reading and translation of French poets who were heirs to the symbolists.
SourceRainbow of American Poetry
The New York School