Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Burton Raffel: Pure Pagan

Pure Pagan: Seven Centuries of Greek Poems and Fragments, trans. Burton Raffel (Modern Library, 2004)


I seem to be on a classics/translations track lately. Nothing offensive, but very little memorable either about these version of classical Greek lyric. Indeed, there seems to be a strong scent of "sweepings," which is perhaps explained by Raffel's professed desire to avoid redoing poems more strikingly translated by Dudley Fitts, Guy Davenport, Mary Barnard – in other words, to try to find some decent leavings in an already pretty well-glean'd field. Drinking, death, bravery – not nearly enough sex. Guy D. contributes a scattered introduction, a fair specimen of his late, unfortunate essay style – all over the place but very occasionally to the point. Heart not in it.


Ed Baker said...




Anonymous said...

I recently got Raffel's Poems from the Old English. Found a novel you might like at the library: The Other Side by Alfred Kubin, it's from Daedalus Press, but sadly out-of-print; the German language original is actually cheaper on amazon. I've ordered Miodrag Pavolvic's Links, and am watching the mail for it. Saw a funny poem I thought you'd get a kick out of - "Sonnet" by Octavio Armand trans. Jason Shinder - it reads "I am an honest man" fourteen times. Do you still have my book of Pessoa poems?

~ Ray