09 August 2009

Not poetry

Using two or more languages in a text does not qualify one to be a multilingual poet. In other words, there are multilingual poems and there are multilingual "poems." There are multilingual texts that are not poems at all. Take this post from the About.com thread on "Multilingual Poems / Translation":

Se demener a etre au septieme ciel sont les arts.
To struggle in our seven heaven are arts.

This is clearly not poetry because it does not fulfill the first requirement for a work of literature, namely, that it should follow the rules of grammar. (That rule, of course, allows for its own exception, namely, that the poet may deliberately and knowingly violate the rules of grammar for aesthetic purposes.)

The second line borders on the illiterate. That the writer used a computer program to translate the French into English is obvious. There are computer-generated poems that approach the level of poetry, but this is not one of them. It is worse that we are not even talking about a computer, but a human being who could have, with some effort and time, learned a second language.

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