Notes On Charles Baudelaire

Wyatt Mason at Poetry:

There have been many English Baudelaires through the 150 years since his death, two dozen reasonably ample selected poems, and a dozen or so Les Fleurs du mal (a new one arrives next month, translated by Aaron Poochigian). Interesting poets can make a hash of foreign things (Robert Lowell, say, who tried his hand at translating Baudelaire in 1961) as easily as the less interesting can (Paul Schmidt, say). The only question to ask of a new translation of a poet already well-represented in English is: any good?

Different assumptions underlie the question. I’ve come to think there are three possible stances when talking about any translation of poetry. The first stance, the dismissive one, has reader-critics say that no translation can adequately get across the essence of what makes foreign poet of lasting interest and thus in any new translation there is only more proof of the maxim—critic holds up example from original and example from translation and says, “See, not as good.”

more here.