Poems in translation: William Shakespeare, Kálmán Kalocsay / Reto Rossetti, William Auld, A. Z. Foreman

Sometime circa 1970 I went through the textbook Esperanto: A New Approach (2nd ed.; Bruselo: Heroldo de Esperanto, 1969) by the renowned Esperantist poet William Auld. (I was later to take a course from him in Barrie, Ontario in the summer of 1975.) I think I loaned the book out to someone in 1976 and it was never returned. What a shame, because I think it was a good textbook. What I do remember is two translations, which were presented as challenges to the reader. I don't think I could equal either translation presented.

One is an Esperanto translation of Shakespeare's famed Sonnet 18 done by Reto Rossetti: Soneto 18. Rossetti is a master. The translation is beautiful. At the time I preferred it to the original, perhaps because the language seemed more natural to me than Shakespearean English. But this was never my favorite love poem anyway. No matter, such judgments are subjective. If you can read the Esperanto translation, enjoy. Oddly, I still know by heart a sizable chunk of this translation after some four decades.

The other translation is an English rendition of an Esperanto original, Somernokto by Kálmán Kalocsay, rendered by William Auld himself: Night of Summer. It is an excellent translation, and you can get a glimpse of the kind of lyrical poetry that was characteristic in the Esperanto world in this time period, which was in reality a highly unromantic, gloomy political period. Kalocsay almost single-handedly developed Esperanto's poetics between the world wars.

A.Z. Foreman, who translates to and from more languages than I can keep track of, has also translated poems from Esperanto, and from Kalocsay in particular. You can read his translation of this poem, Summer Night, and on the same web page you can read the Esperanto original and hear Foreman reciting the Esperanto original. You can also compare this translation with an earlier translation by Foreman on the Noxalio blog.

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