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March 12, 2013

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I wonder what would happen if you attempted a translation of the Neruda poem now -- trying to reconstruct how you rendered things back then, to an extent, but editing as needed. Thank you for a provocative column. It is true that women vastly outnumber men as readers; I believe people in publishing have gone on that assumption for a long time.

Thank you, DL. I wanted to revisit my translation and post it, but ran out of time. I remember my first line was "I have stared at my long legs at length," which I prefer to "For a long time I have stayed looking at my long legs"... Re-reading the poem, I realize how it ponders the nature masculine/feminine, probably another reason it intrigued me at the time.

I (a man) have always read all books, regardless of the gender of the author or protagonist, in the way you describe and have never had any trouble doing so with books like _The Secret Garden_, _Heidi_, etc or with more modern literary female authors. In fact, I am deeply suspicious of people who read from such a calcified perspective that they cannot enter into the spirit/point-of-view of a book. To me, they are letting other agendas interfere with reading and are missing out on a lot.

"I have stared at my long legs at length" is much superior to "For a long time I have stayed looking at my long legs" -- more idiomatic, nice alliteration, and you avoid the too easy allusion to Proust. And yes, I agree: the masculine/feminine paradigm is an inexhaustible source of wonder.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
                   

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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THE RULE OF THUMB
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Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
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to the rule of Thumb.

 

 


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