Translation by John A. Scott

Reviewed by
December 1990–January 1991, no. 127
Simon Patton reviews 'Translation' by John A. Scott

Translation

by John A. Scott

Picador, $15.99 pb, 223 pp

Translation by John A. Scott

Reviewed by
December 1990–January 1991, no. 127

This collection is an eclectic one. John A. Scott includes translations from Apollinaire, Ovid, John Clare (a translation from prose) and a little-known contemporary French poet by the name of Emmanuel Hocquard, together with a selection of his own work. This at first dauntingly disparate group appears to be united by the myth of Apollo’s son Orpheus in which creativity and the absence of the beloved are inextricably entwined (‘I come here for Eurydice, whose absence / filled my life – and more – could not contain’). Another aspect of this myth important to Scott is represented by Rimbaud’s A Season In Hell, in which spiritual suffering and occult experience are vital elements of artistic creation. Transposed to a more mundane level, this suffering is nothing more than frustrated sexual desire, a condition frequently evoked by the poet in this collection and one that finds eloquent expression in his translation of Apollinaire’s ‘Zone’:

You suffered from love at twenty and
                             thirty
I have lived like a madman and I
                             have wasted my time
You no longer dare look at your
                             hands at every
               moment I could weep
Over you over her whom I love over
                             everything
               which has frightened you

Simon Patton reviews 'Translation' by John A. Scott

Translation

by John A. Scott

Picador, $15.99 pb, 223 pp

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