“Tell me not here, it needs not saying,
What tune the enchantress plays,
In aftermaths of soft September
Or under blanching Mays,
For she and I were long acquainted
And I knew all her ways”
(Housman)

The end of soft September is  upon us and I have not yet drafted my monthly Newsletter. There will be more to come, but at least I can signal the appearance of two notable works of translation.

Firstly, a new version of Gilgamesh, sometimes hailed as the world’s first major literary text and a proto-novel that antedates the Odyssey by well over a thousand years. Stuart Kendall has given us a very readable translation, hailed by Jerome Rothenberg as “the examplary version of our time”  with a very thought-provoking, scholarly and imaginative Introduction that is needful for such a strange work. As Stuart Kendall says, Gilgamesh is a sort of time-capsule, coming to us from a society and culture more perplexing and different than the societies that gave us the Bible or the Greek myths, while influencing both. I have asked someone more competent than myself to do a review of this important work
The New York publisher Contra Mundum havs given us a beautifully designed book and is to be complimented for this undertaking.

Secondly, I signal the long awaited publication by Black Widow Press of the Shapiro translation of a selection of poems by Anna de Noailles, the great French poet of the Belle Epoque whom I have myself translated. I enclose a letter written to the publishers by Roger Hunt Carroll of Hague Press (who incidentally published The Trace I wish to Leave & other poems English translations from the French of Anna de Noailles by Sebastian Hayes)..

Dear Joe Phillips:
I want to let you know how much delight I find in the volume of Noailles translations Black Widow has produced. It is a triumph in every respect and well worth waiting such a long time to see.  The rich, variegated world of Anna de Noailles’ poetry is no longer sequestered only among those who can read her original French; but now, through the stunning translations by Norman Shapiro, it’s as though the poet has started all over again with a whole new world in front of her. 

A de N wrote poetry with such an unbreakable footing in the human condition; it is no wonder that the greatest chronicler of humanity’s kaleidoscope, Marcel Proust, fell at her feet, so to speak: it ‘took one to know one’. Like Rilke’s supreme poet voice, Noailles is not contained only in her French in the way he cannot be contained only in his German (or his own French for that matter). In the hands of a master translator like Shapiro, Noailles’ verse can be appreciated for the Voice Universal it really is. Black Widow Press has done literature a very great good deed in making it possible for English readers to experience what a powerful creation of the beautiful and true the poetry of Anna de Noailles presents.
Many thanks and best wishes to you and to your Widow!
Roger Hunt Carroll
The Hague Press, Norfolk 

Note :  Roger Hunt Carroll  is himself a translator and poet of distinction :  an appreciation of his work “Roger Hunt Carroll : Puritan Aesthete” can be found on the website www.whatispoetry.org     S.H. 30/9/12 

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