Poetry in Translation

Any bilingual person can tell you about the difficulties of translation: the impossibility of translating something word-for-word, the struggle to transfer cultural implications of certain phrases from one language and culture to another, and/or the worry that the original message is being distorted in some way.

I’ve had some experience translating simple things like press releases or catalogue copy here at the UOP, and it’s always a struggle. What I can’t imagine is translating poetry. Not only would you have to worry about the words, but the meter, the tone, the punctuation, the literary devices!

One of my favourite poems is called Laughter by the Chilean diplomat and Nobel Prize laureate Pablo Neruda. It’s such a beautiful poem that I marvel at the fact that it has been translated from its original Spanish to English.

My Spanish is very poor, but I still find it interesting to see the original poem next to the translation. If you’re interested, check out both versions at the following link:


For more information on Pablo Neruda, including his biography, more of his poetry, and a recording of Neruda’s Nobel lecture, check out the Nobel Prize Website.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely and timely--thanks for posting this.