‘. . . a wonderful anthology of versions from Sophocles to Jaccottet and Ní Dhomhnaill . . . ‘I would rather read a new poem by Derek Mahon than anyone else writing in English.’
— Grey Gowrie, The Spectator
Not translations, properly speaking, but versions of their originals, Derek Mahon’s imaginative, recreative and recreational adaptations, done over the years ‘with the idle intensity of doodles’, ask to be read ‘almost like original poems in English, allowing their sources to remain audible’. Many of them started life in previous publications and now reappear, some slightly revised, in a new context. Some are published here for the first time.
The poets represented range from Sophocles to Pasolini, Juvenal to Brecht. There is a large French section which includes a song cycle based on the trobairitz (women troubadours), The Chimeras of Nerval and a much admired version of Valéry, ‘The Seaside Cemetery’. Baudelaire and Pasternak are here, together with a largely recent Rilke group, and the volume concludes with three versions from the Irish of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.