Transplanting English Dialect Verse: John Clare in Translation

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The English poet John Clare’s (1793-1864) verse – relying on an unparalleled natural sensibility of a quasi-scientific scope – is vital for exposing contemporary and historical ecological vulnerabilities. His poetry is a litany of lost biodiversity in the British Isles, depicting the pre-enclosure habitats of birds such as snipes and corncrakes (Monbiot 2012). Any poetic translation, transferring this energy to a non-English audience, contends not only with general problems of translating poetry, but also “the dilemma of dialect” (Landers 2001:116). Clare employs a “heteroglossia”, merging popular dialectal ballads with standard early-nineteenth century poetic language (McCusick 1995), further perplexing translation efforts. Translational forays in Italian (Clare/Frisa 2021) and Spanish (Clare/Piñero 1966) are accompanied, however, by large scale translational projects in German (Clare/Pfister 2021), French (Clare/Leyris 1969), and Slovak (Clare/Kantorová-Báliková 2018). These matter in terms of communicating the imperative to preserve biodiversity and dialects across cultures. We will use, therefore, an eco-translational approach (Cronin 2017; Scott 2015). This theoretical framework will see translation as attention and as manifesting interdependence as opposed to immediacy or equivalence, allowing one to juxtapose consistent approaches to rendering Clare in a target language.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
JournalNew Voices in Translation Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2024


  • John Clare
  • Eco-translation
  • Poetry translation


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