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Poems in EnglishGedichten Poems in Esperanto

Anneke Buys

poetry, reviews (poetry), The Netherlands.


Ten Esperanto Poets in English translation
Reviewed by Anneke Buys, The Netherlands.

This booklet was published by the British Esperanto Society in 1991 (140 Holland Park Avenue, London W11 4UF, U.K.) Despite its appearance - small type, lack of information about the translators, pages numbered by hand - this collection is well worth reading. The ten poets are well-known in "Esperantujo", as Esperantists jokingly call their non-existent country. All these poets were published in the 1984 anthology, "Esperanto Antologio".

This selection gives a good impression of how subtle and rich Esperanto is now. Dr. Zamenhof, the initiator of Esperanto, (1859-1917), could use only a limited stock of words to express his ideas and feelings. His works, both original and of translations of world literature, shaped a tradition for others to build on.

The themes in this collection are universally recognisable: love, nature, art, growing older. William Auld's "La infana raso" is translated into a number of languages, Marjorie Boulton's "Faktoj kaj fantazioj" (Facts an fantasies) is loved by all beginners as it combines a gradually growing stock of wordswith wit and charm. Here is one of her poems:

DURING A LECTURE (Dum prelego)

I lectured, and a sudden feeling shook
my over-confidence about the book.
We hammered at a text, tried to explain
by diverse theories what was all quite plain;

and while we mouthed our literary data,
the work itself was our best commentator;
'mid glosses, comments, and dissecting zeal
the work was lost; for we forgot to feel.

The work itself, the work itself impelled
Me as I lectured; so I just rebelled.
As natural as a storm or earthquake's thud,
a poem finds its rhythm in the blood.

A poem: fragment of divine reflection
torn from God's silent truth; man-made perfection
A poem: a convulsion of the soul,
that tells mankind some fraction of the whole.

A poem: living at its most intense,
when molten words in passion's flame condense.
I would have shouted:: "Oh, let's drop it, drop it!
This foolish, vile dissection, Stop it, stop it!"

"Oh, let us feel the poem, let us feel
as when in love's embrace our senses reel.
Away with glosses, comments, paraphrases,
Source-hunting! Oh let ecstasy but blaze!"

But I discreetly hid my heresy;
examinations will banality.
Only my trembling voice betrayed my heart:
At last the poem had revealed its art.

Marjorie Boulton. Translation by "DBG"

Arts Dialogue, page 20, June 2001

Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands