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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

In the Light Of

$14.95

Ciaran Carson has a distinguished history of translation from the Italian (The Inferno of Dante Alighieri, 2002), the Irish (The Midnight Court, 2005; and The Táin, 2007) as well as from the French (The Alexandrine Plan, 1998). He states in his “Author’s Note” that “these versons are not conventional translations. . . . There are instances where I have added to or taken away from the original. I have sometimes twisted Rimbaud’s words. And Rimbaud’s words, of course, twisted mine . . .” Carson’s idea of the translator’s work is like the French poet’s own visionary idea of how poetry conveys the hypnotic violence of the real: “The poet makes himself a seer through a long, prodigious and rational disordering of the senses.” Carson continues: “However we gloss the title Illuminations, the poems flit within the inward eye like a brightly-coloured magic lantern slides, pictures from a marvellous book, visions of another world, scenes from an avant-garde film. Rimbaud was avant-garde before the Avant-garde; a surrealist before Surrealism; and, environmentalist avant la lettre, his critique of industrial society in some of these poems is still relevant today. In all senses he was indeed a seer.” Only a poet of Carson’s skills could translate the poetry of the poète maudit “in the light of” the original.

“The temptation with Rimbaud’s Illuminations, because the pieces are ostensibly in prose, is to render them more or less word for word, thus ignoring their music. But the more you examine them, and read the French aloud, you can see that the prose has metre, and occasional rhyme embedded in it. They are indeed prose poems; I think Rimbaud invented the genre. Any translations I had read seemed flat and inert to my ear, so I decided to rewrite them in the rhyming couplets of the classical French alexandrine. Without that constriction of form, I could get no angle of attack on the material. I wanted the dreamlike imagery to rhyme, chime, and echo: to make some kind of music to my ear.”
– Ciaran Carson, in an interview with The Spectator (Read the entire interview)

Follow this link to listen to Carson read “Fée,” “Snow,” and “As I Roved Out.”


Reviews

“The varied textual history of Rimbaud’s Illuminations is testament to its nature as a timeless work, indicative of a text which is at once elusive yet all-encompassing, foreign yet familiar. Carson offers an exquisite contribution to the continuing evolution of this liminal text, with his distillation of the form to its essential parts, a triumphant feat of language and skilful style.”
– Lucy Hinnie, Tower Poetry

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Description

Ciaran Carson has a distinguished history of translation from the Italian (The Inferno of Dante Alighieri, 2002), the Irish (The Midnight Court, 2005; and The Táin, 2007) as well as from the French (The Alexandrine Plan, 1998). He states in his “Author’s Note” that “these versons are not conventional translations. . . . There are instances where I have added to or taken away from the original. I have sometimes twisted Rimbaud’s words. And Rimbaud’s words, of course, twisted mine . . .” Carson’s idea of the translator’s work is like the French poet’s own visionary idea of how poetry conveys the hypnotic violence of the real: “The poet makes himself a seer through a long, prodigious and rational disordering of the senses.” Carson continues: “However we gloss the title Illuminations, the poems flit within the inward eye like a brightly-coloured magic lantern slides, pictures from a marvellous book, visions of another world, scenes from an avant-garde film. Rimbaud was avant-garde before the Avant-garde; a surrealist before Surrealism; and, environmentalist avant la lettre, his critique of industrial society in some of these poems is still relevant today. In all senses he was indeed a seer.” Only a poet of Carson’s skills could translate the poetry of the poète maudit “in the light of” the original.

“The temptation with Rimbaud’s Illuminations, because the pieces are ostensibly in prose, is to render them more or less word for word, thus ignoring their music. But the more you examine them, and read the French aloud, you can see that the prose has metre, and occasional rhyme embedded in it. They are indeed prose poems; I think Rimbaud invented the genre. Any translations I had read seemed flat and inert to my ear, so I decided to rewrite them in the rhyming couplets of the classical French alexandrine. Without that constriction of form, I could get no angle of attack on the material. I wanted the dreamlike imagery to rhyme, chime, and echo: to make some kind of music to my ear.”
– Ciaran Carson, in an interview with The Spectator (Read the entire interview)

Follow this link to listen to Carson read “Fée,” “Snow,” and “As I Roved Out.”


Reviews

“The varied textual history of Rimbaud’s Illuminations is testament to its nature as a timeless work, indicative of a text which is at once elusive yet all-encompassing, foreign yet familiar. Carson offers an exquisite contribution to the continuing evolution of this liminal text, with his distillation of the form to its essential parts, a triumphant feat of language and skilful style.”
– Lucy Hinnie, Tower Poetry

Additional information

Publication date:

2013