In this issue of MPT

Love and War, Series 3 No.7

Edited by Helen Constantine, David Constantine

“Love in literature…has from the first adopted the imagery of war to say what it feels like and to describe and further the lover’s means and ends” is how the editors open their introduction to this enthralling issue of Modern Poetry in Translation. But they strike a more sombre note to close, “Love played with the language of war; war and belligerent capitalism hijack the language of love and sex. It matters what language you use.”

For the contributors to this collection, it was language which made them dangerous, whether it was Ritsos in exile while under the Papadopolous dictatorship writing 333 monochords in one month which speak simply deadly truths:

“They hauled down the flags. Went back to their homes. They’re counting their money”

or Federico Garcia Lorca, writing 10 years before the outbreak of the civil war, in his invention of an assault on a gipsy city:

“Where they stop, they impose
the silence of dark rubber,
and fear, fine sand on the spine.”

Still in Spain, Manuel Rivas, Galicia’s best-known author internationally, whose brilliant novel The Carpenter’s Pencil prompted Günter Grass to say that he’d learned more there about the Spanish Civil War than from any history book, is represented with a luminous selection of six poems, beautifully translated by Jonathan Dunne.

Also internationally renowned, author of one of the great novels of the twentieth century History, Elsa Morante appears here in a fine translation by Christina Viti of the opening section of 'The World Saved by Kids and Other Epics', which she commended to young people: “the only audience which might still be capable of listening to the word of poets.”

Other great poets in skilful translation include Pushkin, the Chinese poet Du Fu (712 –770) and the Russian Elena Shvarts.

EXPLORE THIS ISSUE:   » Editorial   » Poems   » Reviews

Series 3 No.7 - Love and War

Table of contents

In Love and War

Poetry and Features

Editorial  David and Helen Constantine

Adonis, nine poems, translated by Peter Clark and Sarah Maguire from Arabic

Jeff Nosbaum, ‘Pride of Ajax’

Yannis Ritsos, twenty-eight of the Monochords, translated by Paul Merchant from Modern Greek

Guillaume Apollinaire, seven poems, translated by Stephen Romer from French

Pushkin, The Captain’s Daughter, extracts translated by Robert Chandler from Russian

Vénus Khoury-Ghata, six poems from Interments, translated by Marilyn Hacker from French

Gilgamesh, an extract translated by Paul Batchelor from Old Sumerian

Federico Garcia Lorca , ‘Song of the Civil Guard’, translated by Mark Leech from Spanish

Oliver Reynolds, ‘Kolin’ and ‘Dusty Miller Breaks his Silence’ (after Liliencron’s ‘Wer weiss wo’ and ‘Vergiss die Mühle nicht’) from German

Stephen Romer, four poems

Du Fu, two poems, translated by Paul Harris from Chinese

Charles Dobzynski, ‘My Life as a Wall’, translated by Marilyn Hacker from French

Lucretius, ‘Aulis’, translated by Stephanie Norgate from Latin

Robert Desnos, ten poems, translated by Timothy Adès from French

Anzhelina Polonskaya, four poems, translated by Andrew Wachtel from Russian

Manuel Rivas, six poems, translated by Jonathan Dunne from Galician

Giuseppe Belli, four sonnets, translated by Mike Stocks from Italian

Elsa Morante, Farewell, an extract translated by Cristina Viti from Italian

Andrea Zanzotto, four poems, translated by Jo Catling and others from Italian

Elena Shvarts, nine poems, translated by Sasha Dugdale from Russian


Michael Hamburger on Assia Wevill

Robin Fulton on Robin Robertson’s Tranströmer 

Sasha Dugdale on Emily Lygo’s Voltskaia

Charlie Louth on Eavan Boland and the Bachmann-Henze correspondence

Belinda Cooke on translations of Vittorio Sereni and Luciano Erba

Josephine Balmer, Shorter Reviews

Issue highlights

  • War Poetry from France: Guillaume Apollinaire
  • From Tang Dynasty China: Du Fu
  • From Greece: Yannis Ritsos
  • Stephanie Norgate’s version of Lucretius
  • Jonathan Dunne’s Manuel Rivas
  • Robert Chandler’s Pushkin
  • Sasha Dugdale’s Elena Shvarts

Featured review

A Lover of Unreason: The Life and Tragic Death of Assia Wevill

By Yehuda Koren, Eilat Negev
Reviewed by Michael Hamburger

Perplexities about Assia Wevill

Having long since ceased to be a book reviewer, least of all of revelations about the private lives of persons known to me as writers or as friends, I had a special reason for making an exception of A Lover of Unreason: The Life and Death of Assia Wevill. It was that I had two connections with her, both of which had become blanks in my mind. The first was that I...

» Read more

MPT has a rare and precious talent for illuminating the world's more perplexing places in a blaze of verse.Boyd Tonkin
The Independent

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Spring 2017

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