translation

Miguel Torga on translators

I first translated this quotation from Miguel Torga (1907-1955, an important twentieth-century Portuguese writer and poet) about three and a half years ago. I mistranslated the last sentence. Here is the re-hash. Aside from the corrected last sentence, I made a couple of other stylistic changes.

Miguel Torga
Miguel Torga, portrait on canvas by Botelho 2012 (Carlos Botelho II)

Traduzir é, primordialmente, um acto de amor. Só quem for tocado na mente e no coração pela singularidade radical de uma voz sente a necessidade e o gosto de a alargar aos ouvidos do mundo. E o pobre poeta de qualquer S. Martinho de Anta, que sonha com o seu canto a ecoar para além das fronteiras que o limitam, é nessas almas sintonizadas e mediúnicas que confia. São elas as difusoras mágicas das suas palavras, que procuram entender em todos os recônditos sentidos e preservar vivas e equivalentes na transplantação verbal.

Nunca será por demais exaltado o serviço que prestam à humanidade esses obreiros de uma outra comunicação dos santos, terrena, encarnada, naturalmente oposta à sobrenatural do “Credo”. Se nos faltassem, ficariam sem respostas inimagináveis interrogações, apelos e desafios.
Miguel Torga em Diário XVI, Dezembro 1993

To be a translator, fundamentally and first and foremost, is an act of love. Only those whose minds and hearts have been blessed by that radical singularity of voice feel the need and the desire to open up the ears of the world. The poor poet, from an insignificant parish like my native São Martinho de Anta, dreams of how his song will echo far beyond the frontiers which hold it back. And so, it is to these attuned souls, who intercede on his behalf, that he entrusts his spirit. They are the magic diffusers of his words who seek to understand them in all their hidden meanings and preserve them transformed, alive and whole in the transplanted word.

Never can the service to humanity performed by these workers be exalted enough; these intercessors who immerse themselves in that other earthly communion of saints, the one naturally incarnate as opposed to the supernatural incarnation of the Creed. If we did not have them, unimaginable challenges, questions, and invocations would be bereft of response.

Miguel Torga, Diário XVI,
December 1993

Translation: ©2018 Allison Wright


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