Who links to me? the journal of a semi-insane man: What language should poets write in?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What language should poets write in?

She [Marina Tsvetayeva] herself passionately believed that "writing poetry is in itself translating, from the mother tongue into another, whether French or German should make no difference."

No language is the mother tongue. Writing poetry is rewriting it…. A poet may write in French; he cannot be a French poet. That's ludicrous…. The reason one becomes a poet…is to avoid being French, Russian, etc., in order to be everything…. Yet every language has something that belongs to it alone, that is it…. French: clock without resonance; German—more resonance than clock…. French is there. German becomes, French is.

-Tsvetayeva chiding Rilke as qouted by John Bayley in "Big Three"
New York Review of Books Volume 32, Number 19 · December 5, 1985

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