Robert Bly's Eight Stages for Translations
Robert Bly’s approach to translation includes eight stages:
1. Creating a literal version of the poem.
2. Unpacking the meaning of certain foreign words and phrases, ensuring that these are understood properly.
3. Making the poem the best it can be in the English language.
4. Translating the poem into American English or spoken English: “the desperate living tone or fragrance that tells you a person now alive could have said the phrase”.
5. Ensuring that poem, changed as it is, is still true to the mood and of the original.
6. Paying attention to sound. (Bly recommends learning the poem by heart).
7. Ask a native speaker to assess your translation.
8. Providing the final draft and making final adjustments.
If you are writing a translation this week, would you add any other stages to Bly’s process? What stages would you suggest for writing an imitation or version of a foreign-language poem?