The Cartography of Being – Nuno Júdice translated by paulo da costa


The poems in Júdice’s universe reflect a conversational and unpretentious philosophical discourse whether distilling musings of the heart in a café scene (The Zodiac According To Saussure) or anchored to the tactile world of the domestic tasks as in Rain, Strings, Poems Like Laundry On A Line which ponders the ars poetica in its theoretical dimension. Many of the poems in this anthology walk a line that connects the ruminations and intellectual essence of the essay form to the tangible emotion of the poem while appearing simultaneously to inhabit parallel universes.

Although translated into twelve languages, from Hebrew to Arabic, including Farsi and Bulgarian, Judice’s poetry remains vastly underrepresented in the English language and, until now, without any books presently available. It is my hope that this selection of English poems in translation will inspire more readers and translators to seek more of his words.

This selection of fifty-one poems, which merely reflects my personal proclivities and no more, remains a drop in the prolific output of this poet who has released twenty-seven books of poetry to date.

The process of translating Júdice challenged me to preserve the complex Portuguese sentences of his discursive musings while engaging the attention of the English language reader accustomed to the concise sentence. Considering that the English language is often associated with the qualities of uncomplicated syntax, these poems posed the challenge of transposing the particular music of the extended sentence, this sustained breath, its succession of line upon line adding crescendos of meanings and music, all the while without compromising the essence of Júdice’s voice. As such, and instead of the traditional compromise of the translator inclined to filter the original language’s music in order to appeal to the recognized tempo of the destination language, I opted to allow the strangeness and uniqueness of this sustained breath to touch the English ear.

It is true that extended sentences, although natural in a Romance language, do not always translate with the desired smoothness into English. As a translator I elected not to render the original text invisible as it is often proposed to translators, and a strategy contemporarily held as the measure of achievement in a suave translation. I was not interested in disguising the linguistic origin of this text, the originality of this poetic voice, its particular resonance, cadence and accent. I will leave it to you, reader of today or tomorrow, to decide whether you appreciate the value of hearing the echoes of a tongue’s original music while travelling with me across this high-wire act of translation that bridges tongues and cultures.

Not unlike the visual storytellers at the Lascaux caves, Júdice circles and circles his subjects with the mist of words, applying his incantatory trance of language in order to deliver an imprint to the reader’s eye that captures the essence of the tangible and the intangible. Ultimately, these images find a canvas in your mind, and their imprint will crystalize long after you have settled down the lid of darkness over the book in your hand.

The extended, contemplative tone in many of Júdice’s poems, his unhurried meditation on the subject at hand attracted me. In an era where the fast and the short appear to be the preferred terms of existence, perhaps a direct result of the velocity in our modern lives, I experienced Júdice’s poetry as a welcome counterpoint, a place where I could follow words that slowly melted into the page as an unhurried winter icicle melts from the eaves or the heavens, moment after moment departing one form to embody another before dropping into my mind to moisten a new consciousness and renewed understanding of being.

It is my hope that you will enjoy reading these poems as I have enjoyed translating them.

paulo da costa

Vancouver Island, March 2012


The Cartography of Being

[Paperback & Kindle Edition]

Nuno Júdice (Author), paulo da costa (Translator)

File Size: 256 KB Publisher: Livros Pé D’Orelha (March 7, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services Language: English/ Portuguese ASIN: B007IIC2VC

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