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Robert Fitzgerald QUOTES / QUOTATIONS
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
At the same time, I feel that the strength of our language comes largely from the Anglo-Saxon and the Old English, and I think there was a conscious effort to make use of those simplicities and that force in the work.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
But the sense one has of it is not so much that one is appropriating something as that one is suiting another and putting one's gifts, whatever they are, at his disposal in order that what he did shall become an English thing.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
Given the scholarship of his time, it's extraordinary how penetrating and sensitive a good deal of his understanding was. In his case one does again have the sense that of course for him it was a text, and it was a text that he came to through Latin.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
His art was comparable to the art of the great musical virtuoso who can improvise, who can sit at the piano and by his mastery, both of the performing technique and of the musical background, can make music.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
I don't think it's quite so simple, and I feel very hesitant to commit myself to what I think one does hear often as the version of what happens - that is, that a poet is always doing the same thing, or a disguised form of it, in translation. I don't think that's true.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
I guess I tend to think of the two activities not as they are often referred to, as closely allied, but rather as very distinct. If you are a poet or aspire to be one, the inference is that when you translate you are embodying that kind of effort simply in another form. I wonder.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
I had been moved by the play when I first read it as an undergraduate. And I had always thought possibly of trying to handle it and others in English, being really intensely dissatisfied with the English versions of these things that existed.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
I remember at a certain point in working on the Odyssey that Rudyard Kipling's stories, which I was reading, as it happened, to my children in Italian versions, reminded me of the possibilities of sheer invention.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
I suppose that's part of the interest and excitement of doing translation, that it does give you personae, as they say, and takes you out of your lyric self.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
I think it was the summer after I left Harvard. Dudley and I stopped at a performance - somewhere at a girls' school in New England - one of Euripides' plays in a version by Gilbert Murray.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
I think that everyone who took part has always been grateful for it.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
I think that one poet is lending himself to the other poet, that the obligation is to the other poet, and that one is taking on for the time being the impulse and intent of the other poet, and so the wish is to make all that clear in one's own language rather than express oneself, so to speak.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
I think there are perhaps two ways in which one can begin.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
I wanted to keep that alive in my field of vision, and so I welcomed the chance every two or three years, with Dudley, to recover the Greek, because that was necessary in each case; one loses it.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
I would then go on to say that Homer, as we now know, was working in what they call an oral tradition.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
If his obligation as I have thought is always to the originator, to the original imagination, then he knows that for that imagination no text, no text sacred or otherwise, existed, that free improvisation was part of the essence of each performance.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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?
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
In fact, eloquence in English will inevitably make use of the Latin element in our vocabulary.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
Of course in taking on, as I put it, the poetic being that is out there, one is perhaps acquiring another personage for oneself.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
One had in one's head spoken cadences. One could relate the language to something heard in France during the brief times one was there, but that was not the case with Greek.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
One may imagine that in the future, as this understanding deepens and widens, more appropriate forms may be found for it. I'd say I made a beginning.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
One would be by taking up a purely literary challenge - as at Harvard, when I was approaching the end of my senior year and needed money, and became aware of a prize given every year for the translation of one of the odes of Horace.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
Poetry is at least an elegance and at most a revelation.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
So it's really a larger question than merely the question of whether one is to reproduce in some standard form formulaic expressions in Greek by formulaic expressions in English.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
So to make something that is strange to our ears would not be doing justice to the work that was not strange to theirs.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
The heart of the matter seems to me to be the direct interaction between one's making a poem in English and a poem in the language that one understands and values. I don't see how you can do it otherwise.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
Then the typewritten drafts began, and every evening I would destroy half of what I had done every morning, and often a day's work would be only a few lines.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
There must of course be a relationship between translating and making poems of your own, but what it is I just don't know.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
This was all formulaic, by its very nature. The phrase was the unit, you could say, rather than the word. There were no dictionaries and no sense of vocabulary such as we have.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
This was an assigned ode, which I would not have chosen to translate and had no particular feeling for. I did it because I wanted two hundred dollars. That's the crude and simple example I think of as one of the ways it comes about. I did not win the prize either.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
Translation is not done simply in the way that one writes poetry oneself - at a desk in a closed room, with the traffic of the world shut out. Is there anything here that would interest you to comment on?
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
We worked of course separately, sending drafts back and forth and occasionally getting together to talk it over.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
What the translator - myself in particular - does is not comparable to what the Homeric performer was doing.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
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.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
Yes, living voices in a living language, so it seemed to us.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
Yes, one sees by virtue of this slight liberation that in fact all works of imagination are improvisation at some stage, at the beginning certainly. And one sees how precious this sheer invention is in the making of a work of art.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald
Yes, well there again, the work of the imagination originally came out of a particular air that blew over a particular body of water.
Quotation of Robert Fitzgerald