Don Paterson's Orpheus—a version of Rilke (2006) is an English-language text that transmutes Rilke's original Die Sonette an Orpheus (1922); this is a text that sets up exemplary modes of production for poet-versioneers. Re-reading Marianne Moore's poem 'Poetry' as enshrining affectivity as no less than categorical and generic, this paper agrees with Paterson's impulse to abandon the imperative for equivalence when translating poems by instead seeking to transmute (as Paterson puts it) the 'spirit of the original' source text. Re-reading sound as the echo of a poem's spirit, I speculate that versioneering requires close listening paired to a range of creative strategies (ekphrasis, technē, poeisis). This paper explores these processes through an examination of my own English-language versions of poems by Italian poet Alda Merini—versions which seek to capture and transmute the implication-filled sounds of the source texts.
Towards a Poetics of Versioneering