If you live in Northern Europe you probably know who Wisława Szymborska was. Her poems deserved the Nobel Prize in 1996 and her pet subject, which was the disasters after a war, lures the German readers. Also, she developed great technical skills to make a poem, all of them on the basis of the smoothness and plainness. All in all, although her talent has stunned me, I don’t know anything about her technique. The reason is that I don’t speak Polish. And German readers either.
Spanish is the language whereby I know Szymborska. It is so different from Polish that you hardly appreciate the way a poem is composed apart from getting the big structure. Nonetheless, most of them shine with a characteristic beauty I admire. So here is my question. Why is able a translated poem to move someone?
I have often thought that you need to master both art and technique. And I think that is needed in poetry, in architecture and in sciences as well. But now I think I may be wrong. Perhaps there is something in a good piece of whatever thing which outranks all the rest. But I still consider you must master the language to soar above all the idiomatic boundaries. I may be looking for it, and that’s why I read Szymborska over and over again, in spite of missing lots of language subtleties.