Rhythm in translation, with two accounts of Leconte de Lisle’s ‘Midi’

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This article explores the translation of poetic rhythm: not the rhythm of the source text, but the rhythm of the translational act itself. This re-conception of translation’s rhythmic task is enabled by a translation designed for the polyglot, rather than for the monoglot, reader. In this new understanding of translational process, rhythm not only embodies the perceptual and cognitive experience of the translating subject, it also makes more intimate the relationship between language and voice, the linguistic and the paralinguistic. Furthermore, it has as much to do with the space of translation, its distribution on the page, as with its changing temporal modes. The translator, then, does not translate the rhythm of a text so much as a text’s capacity for rhythm, and that capacity includes both espousing the perspective of a translating ‘I’ and releasing what is not linguistically manifest in the source text. These propositions are tested in two translations of Leconte de Lisle’s ‘Midi’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-105
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of European Studies
Issue number1
Early online date26 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • paralanguage
  • polyglot/monoglot reader
  • rhythm
  • scriptible/lisible
  • situated speech
  • subject-position
  • voice
  • énonciation/énoncé

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