Erotic Soyuz

Philip Metres


Every essay on (the impossible of) translation resembles every other, but this one is happy in its own way. Like a striptease that leads only to more clothing, let's begin with a contradiction: generalities are never interesting. The particular is the place of all the juice and joy, all the scald and sin. For example, what's an adequate translation for (fortochka) -- that little window that opens in a bigger window that does not open?


Another generality masquerading as a particular: language is limestone, porous enough to let the world in and out again, always changed by the water's flow. If poetry is in fact "what is lost in translation," it is ecayse our own words often fail to describe, inscribe, transcribe, or circumscribe our lives. The failures of translation, then, are not faulures between languages as much as a property of language itself.