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Poetry translation activities


Some general notes on translating poetry
Entering the Stephen Spender Prize: advice from the judges
George Szirtes’ attempt to categorise translated poetry
Christ’s Hospital school’s school-wide translation project
The Stephen Spender Prize 2015

Below is a list of downloadable poetry translation resources in a number of languages: French, German, IsiNdebele, Italian, Latin, Portuguese and Spanish. We plan to keep adding to them. If you have some activities of your own which you'd be happy to share with others, or want to comment on the ones available below, we'd be glad to hear from you.

The activities are designed to be as suitable for students who are studying a language and already have a good knowledge of it as they are for students who aren't and don't. There is a strong tradition of poet-translators 'translating' from languages they don't know, either by using a literal, as we've supplied here, or by working in collaboration with the poet or a fluent speaker of the language. The intention is that these exercises be suitable for use both in MFL lessons and English creative writing sessions.

Click on the following activity plans to download them as pdf files

French
Translating 'Le Sillage' by Jules Supervielle:
students' notes | teachers' notes
Translating 'Art poétique' by Paul Verlaine:
students' notes | teachers' notes
German
Translating 'Der Panther' by Rilke:
students' notes | teachers' notes
IsiNdebele
Translating 'Iphi Inkosi U Mzilikazi' by Albert Nyathi:
students' notes | teachers' notes
Italian
Translating 'I Pastori' by Gabriele D'Annunzio:
students' notes | teachers' notes
Latin
Translating a Martial epigram:
students' notes | teachers' notes
Portuguese
Translation, transplantation and trans-inspiration using 'Mar Português' by Fernando Pessoa
Spanish
Translating a lyric by Gil Vicente:
students' notes | teachers' notes

You may also be interested in reading Don Cellini's thoughts on translating 'Luminaria' by Pedro Serrano and on translation in general.