Robert Fitzgerald Quotes (32 Quotes)



    I think it was lucky that during most of the work on the Odyssey I lived on Homer's sea in houses that were, in one case, shaken by the impact of the Mediterranean winter storms on the rocks below.

    Words began to appear in English and to make some kind of equivalent. For what satisfaction it is hard to say, except that something seems unusually piercing, living, handsome, in another language, and since English is yours, you wish it to be there too.

    There are probably 20 different stocks ... I will be bargain hunting, ... on how they react to the upcoming correction.

    The question is how to bring a work of imagination out of one language that was just as taken-for-granted by the persons who used it as our language is by ourselves. Nothing strange about it.


    Of course the other and more serious way in which it all happens is that one finds in poems and language some quality one appropriates for oneself and wishes to reproduce.

    In fact, eloquence in English will inevitably make use of the Latin element in our vocabulary.

    All this was really a great advantage in making the language come nearer, at least to being a living one for me, than it might otherwise have been.

    Well, with the French language, which I understood and spoke, however imperfectly, and read in great quantities, at certain times, the matter I suppose was slightly different from either Latin or Greek.

    That helped me to keep in touch with myself and to keep in touch with this really quite extraordinary language and literature into which I had pushed a little way.

    What the translator - myself in particular - does is not comparable to what the Homeric performer was doing.

    Of course anything can happen, and as we know there are a great many examples of the other way of doing it, but I myself don't think I would enjoy it.

    Now, the language that had grown up and formed itself on those principles is what one is dealing with, and the problem is to bring a work of art in that medium into another medium formed on different principles and heard and understood in a different way.

    Well, maybe so, although I don't think I am particularly gifted in languages. In fact, oddly enough, it may have something to do with my being slow at languages.

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    Homer's whole language, the language in which he lived, the language that he breathed, because he never saw it, or certainly those who formed his tradition never saw it, in characters on the pages. It was all on the tongue and in the ear.

    After leaving college and while working on a newspaper and then on a magazine in New York, I wanted not to lose what Greek I had acquired.

    I would then go on to say that Homer, as we now know, was working in what they call an oral tradition.

    When I went to work I had nothing but my own Greek in my own hand before me to try to match with English in the blank lines underneath the Greek.

    The test of a given phrase would be Is it worthy to be immortal To ''make a beeline'' for something. That's worthy of being immortal and is immortal in English idiom. ''I guess I'll split'' is not going to be immortal and is excludable, therefore excluded.

    In a way you can feel that the poet actually is looking over your shoulder, and you say to yourself, now, how would this go for him? Would this do or not?


    There must of course be a relationship between translating and making poems of your own, but what it is I just don't know.

    Yes, and there were changes of light on landscapes and changes of direction of the wind and the force of the wind and weather. That whole scene is too important in Homer to neglect.

    Is encouragement what the poet needs? Open question. Maybe he needs discouragement. In fact, quite a few of them need more discouragement, the most discouragement possible.


    Yes, well there again, the work of the imagination originally came out of a particular air that blew over a particular body of water.

    The invention of Bob Dylan with his guitar belongs in its way to the same kind of tradition of something meant to be heard, as the songs of Homer.

    I think that everyone who took part has always been grateful for it.

    One should indeed read Pope with his notes available, in the Twickenham edition possibly, to see what a vast amount he did understand about Homer.


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