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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ann Lauterbach
Ann Lauterbach
Ann Lauterbach's most recent book, Under the Sign, was published in September of 2013....
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FURTHER READING
Poems about Language
Anxieties
by Donna Masini
Avoid Adapting Other People's Negative Views
by Sharon Dolin
Etymological Dirge
by Heather McHugh
Having Words
by Alfred Corn
I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone
by Rainer Maria Rilke
I Want the Certainty of Love in Another Language
by Christie Ann Reynolds
Lines on Nonsense
by Eliza Lee Follen
Making It Up as You Go Along
by Bin Ramke
Onomatomania
by Thomas Lux
Past Inclemency & Present Warmth
by Eryn Green
please advise stop [I was dragging a ladder slowly over stones stop]
by Rusty Morrison
Poem
by James Schuyler
Primitive State [excerpt]
by Anselm Berrigan
Reduction
by Page Starzinger
Series
by Geoffrey G. O'Brien
The Composition of the Text
by Adriano Spatola
The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart
by Jack Gilbert
The Long Hand Wishes It Was Used
by Jackie Clark
The World Seems…
by Gregory Orr
Time Study
by Marvin Bell
Tonight No Poetry Will Serve
by Adrienne Rich
Water Music
by Robert Creeley
What Is an Epigram?
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Yes
by Denise Duhamel
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The Translator's Dilemma

 
by Ann Lauterbach

To foretell an ordinary mission, with fewer words.
With fewer, more ordinary, words.
Words of one syllable, for example.

For example: step and sleeve.
These are two favorites, among many.
Many can be found if I look closely.

But even if I look closely, surely a word is not
necessarily here, in the foreground.
I see an edge of a paper, I see orange.

I see words and I see things. An old story,
nothing to foretell the ordinary mission.
I see “her winter” and I see

And even the Romans fear her by now.
Are these words in
translation or barriers to translation?

I see John and an open book, open to a day
in August. I am feeling defeated
among these sights, as if I will never find

either sleeve or step. These ordinary
pleasurable words, attached to
ordinary pleasurable things, as if

to find them is to say I am
announcing criteria. Step, sleeve,
you are invited to come up and be within

ordinary necessities. Staircase. Coat.
About this poem:
"'Translation' here refers to the essential motion, or action, between sight, objects, and words, as well as the more common idea of language into language; also, or maybe in particular, the dilemmas of interpretation and choice. (The line in italics is from the Greek poet C.P. Cavafy, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn.) The idea of the ordinary interests me in relation to a poetics of necessity, which is in turn connected to my long-standing delight in what George Oppen called 'small nouns.'"

—Ann Lauterbach






Copyright © 2013 by Ann Lauterbach. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on September 23, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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