For the translator

For the translator
there is always
this haunting conflict:
Do I translate literally,
following each word,
staying as close as possible
to the text,
or do I follow
the spirit
of the story?

Yes, children’s books keep alive
a sense of nationality,
but they also keep alive a sense
of humanity.
They describe
their native land lovingly,
but they also describe faraway lands
where unknown brothers live.
They understand the essential quality
of their own race,
but each of them is a messenger
that goes beyond mountains and rivers,
beyond the seas, to the very ends
of the world
in search
of new friendships.

Every country gives
and every country receives—
innumerable are the exchanges—
and so it comes about that
in our first impressionable years
the universal republic of childhood
is born.

/ / /

This is a found poem. Source: Carus, Marianne. “And the Whole Earth Was of One Language.” Innocence and Experience: Essays and Conversations on Children’s Literature, compiled and edited by Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire, Lothrop, Lee, & Shepard Books, 1987, pp. 498-505.

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