Yeats in 2015 – Call for Translations & Call for short Paper

Reborn in Translation: W.B. Yeats in 2015
Call for Translations & Call for short Paper

Deadline: 30 November 2014


EFACIS, the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies, wants to celebrate the 150th anniversary of W.B. Yeats’s birth by reviving the poet’s work in as many European languages as we can. More specifically we will focus on poems in which he “conceived” of Life, which means human existence in its grand perspective, encompassing life, death and rebirth, in their surprisingly multifarious forms.

In order to make this celebration a Europe-wide event we launch this call for new translations, inviting you and/or your students to translate any of the 33 selected poems dealing with Life in W. B. Yeats. We picked poems from across his oeuvre, early and late ones, difficult and simple, long and short, so that everyone will find something that appeals to her/him. We look forward to receiving translations in all European languages with a very short essay in English attached which concisely (c. 800 words) describes the specific difficulties that pop up in the translation from Yeats’s diction to your own target language. You can also add a note describing how your chosen poem echoes with an aspect of your own culture.

A jury of experts from all over Europe (see EFACIS website) will be invited to select the best translations to be published in 2015 with a festive launch.

On the EFACIS website we will post a reader consisting of 33 poems by W.B. Yeats (download the document) which all deal with the ways in which the poet relates to Life and vice versa. The poems are ordered according to the chronology of their publication, but one could also distinguish the following clusters of subthemes:

Conception of Life can be physical or mental (emotional, intellectual):

(1) Solomon and the Witch
(2) A Song From the Player Queen
(3) Leda and the Swan
(4) A Prayer for My Daughter
(5) Among School Children
(6) Crazy Jane talks with the Bishop

Relations between parents and children:
In some places and situations Life feels more “real” than in others. Children often have to move from the land of their childhood and youth, but have a special place in their hearts which they keep as an ideal world; other children can be transported by dreams, losing touch with reality; or they can get in conflict with their parents over the friend they choose, as in

(7) The Lake Isle of Innisfree
(8) The Stolen Child
(9) Father and Child

How can a poet “feed” people’s imagination to increase their sense of Life?

Poetics and Desire:
Yeats believed that a poet could never be complacent but had to stretch his self in restless desire of other and better ways of being as in
(10) The Song of Wandering Aengus
(11) The Tower
(12) The Wheel
(13) What Then?
(14) An Acre of Grass

Poetry was hard work anyway because you have to work in a team, or you have to dive deep down into yourself to find an authentic voice; and you need great discipline to coral all the things you want to say in a neat pen /poem, as in
(15) The Fascination of What’s Difficult
(16) A Coat
(17) The Balloon of the Mind
(18) High Talk

Yeats became a “national poet
which meant he wrote about all kinds of aspects that make up humanity; sad cases of poverty as well as forms of heroism, as in
(19) The Ballad of Moll Magee
(20) Easter 1916

And since WBY wrote often in times of war, violence was an aspect of Life and had to be lived through and overcome:
(21) Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen
(22) Meditations in Time of Civil War (I and VI)
(23) Lapis Lazuli

But poetry is a subtle art and its products can be fragile, as in
(24) Fergus and the Druid
(25) He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

or poetry can be very strong in its subtlety:
(26) The Withering of the Boughs
(27) Long-Legged Fly

Where does the poet find his inspiration to feed Life? In many different sources, both natural and supernatural, as we see in
(28) The Rose of the World
(29) Sailing to Byzantium
(30) A Dialogue of Self and Soul
(31) Those Images
(32) Byzantium

Finally, Yeats wondered about the possibility of reincarnation,
as we see in
(33) The Cold Heaven
(34) The Circus Animals’ Desertion (part III)

Some of the poems chosen here are very long, and in the following cases we will also consider partial translations of
Easter 1916: Part I
The Tower, Parts I and III
Among School Children I, VI, VII and VIII
Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen : I, II and V

Meditations in Time of Civil War part I (Ancestral Houses) and VI (The Stare’s nest by My Window)
The Circus Animals’ Desertion: part III

Our selection of the 33 poems is based on the observations made by the different contributors to The Reception of W.B. Yeats in Europe (ed. Klaus Peter Jochum, Continuum, 2006) who pointed out that some parts of Yeats’s long poems were less relevant to their culture than others.

Time scheme: please send your translations with comment and a CV of max 10 lines to before 30 November 2014.