“I have raised myself a monument”

Maceochi's Language Learning

This poem is itself a translation by Pushkin from Horace’s Odes, which makes translating it both more exciting and justified. The translator of a translation, as opposed to a wholly original poem, is hardly a mere impostor. I first translated this two years ago but was partly faithful to the metre and only kept half of the rhyming scheme.

The metre here is difficult: 13 – 12 – 13 – 8. You go from the seemingly endlessly long first three lines to the abruptly short fourth one. Translating Russian poetry never seems to reach a happy medium: either the original is pithy and the nearest English equivalent demands long words or, as in this case, the Russian words are longer than their nearest English translations. This is one of the many Russian poems that contain the word ‘heaven’ and there is only a limited amount of times the translator can…

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