British poetry today
By Anna Shchetinina (Samara)
Every educated person remembers one or two famous poets from classical British literature - Shakespeare, Byron... But what is going on in the world of modern British poetry today?
Unfortunately, we know almost nothing about it: the books by poets from England, Scotland or Wales are rare guests on the shelves of our shops or libraries. However, it doesn't mean that poetry is no longer alive. To prove this fact, the British Council set up long-term project, the aim of which is to publish the anthology of the modern British poetry in Russia next year. As the result of the poetry translation competition (that had been held on the www.britishcouncil.ru in 2005) the group of translators from different regions of our country started immense work.
The seminar for the translators of the anthology was held in Pushkinskie Gory, not far from Pskov. The place had been chosen for its atmosphere - you know that there in Mikhailovskoe the greatest poet Alexander Pushkin lived and created his eternal poems.
The seminar was guided by British and Russian poets and translators: Sasha Dugdale, David Constantine, Helen Constantine, Marina Boroditskaya and Grigory Kruzhkov. At the lectures they told the translators about problems and tendencies in British poetry, about authors and their books. I think that the most frequent topics are relations between a person and the outside world and the problems within the Family. Moreover, the modern British poets are worried about the language loss problem: more and more people speak and write only English today, so Welsh and Scottish are seemed to be forgotten.
And as you know, such problems as war and peace, birth and death, love and hatred are eternal and no wonder that almost all the poets turn to them from time to time. But they write about it in a peculiar way that it is unbelievable how differently one and the same idea can be treated! One of the most distinguished poets Carol Ann Duffy can be very romantic and at the same time sarcastic. Charles Causley presents a great variety of humour, fantasy and adventure. U. A. Fanthorpe is regarded one of the finest public poets in Great Britain. David Constantine's poems are vivid and expressive, his erudition provokes amazement. Sasha Dugdale is sometimes very close to our classical poetry and it seems she writes in Russian...
The list of the outstanding British poets of our time could reach the bottom of this page, but let's wait till the publishing of the anthology and have the opportunity to enjoy ourselves in the wonderful world of Poetry.
by Sasha Dugdale
Noon, and the woods are still bright
With the sun, the snow that fell last night.
The birds, the few that haven't gone
Are watched by a fisherman, crouching alone.
I've been here a while by the lake
Where the ice is marbled, opaque
I've been here a while, sniffing about
Wondering if he will come riding out
Knowing that he must come riding by
Past the dark mill on the rise
As he approaches through the snow
I will prick my ears and I will know
And then when he draws close at last
I will throw myself across his path.
(Translated by Anna Schhetinina)
Полдень. Снегом опушку укрыло,
Все вокруг неподвижно застыло.
Смотрит, ежась, рыбак одинокий
На сорок у замерзшей осоки.
Лед на озере мраморно-белый
По нему я прошелся несмело.
Новый запах с тревогой вдыхаю,
Он сегодня проедет, я знаю,
Мимо мельницы, что за холмами,
Мимо сосен седых за домами.
Чу! Он едет. Все ближе и ближе.
Я замру. И как только увижу
Тень его на слепящем снегу,
Перед ним по тропе пробегу.
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