Translating poetry

At one point of time I had thought of translating my own poems in English, but when I sent couple of them to some of my friends, Karishma almost immediately censored them – “It won’t do; Too literal”.

Now, having read some of the badly translated work, at least as a reader I know how absurd it could get. What then is one supposed to do? If you translate literally, you might end up doing absurd translation. While if you try to translate meaning, you might end up biasing the poem with your own interpretation.

Oh Jaya, isn’t that the reason why good translators are so rare?

Of course. Just that I realized for myself how tough it is while I tried translating some of Bachchan’s poems in this blog recently. Any good (free) web-resource on the art of translation?

This entry was posted in Imported from Old Blog, Literature, Thoughts by Jaya. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jaya

Jaya Jha is an entrepreneur, a techie, a writer and a poet. She was born and brought up in various towns of Bihar and Jharkhand. A graduate of IIT Kanpur and IIM Lucknow, she realized early on that the corporate world was not her cup of tea. In 2008, she started, one of the first print-on-demand publishing platform in India. She currently lives in Bangalore and divides her time between writing and working on her company's latest product InstaScribe ( with a vision to make it the best e-book creation tool. Blog: Twitter: @jayajha Facebook:

One thought on “Translating poetry

  1. Since I am removing the Haloscan Comments, I am copy-pasting the comments I got on this post here.

    well, for my purposes, your literal translations more than suffice since I need them to ensure I have got the word meanings right (reading poems in class 10 seems like such a distant past now !).. and you do do a good job at that
    priya | 10.31.04 – 9:39 am | #

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