ALCOOLS by

ALCOOLS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the second translation of Apollinaire's first collection of verse, Alcools, to be published in America in little over a year. Inevitably Miss Greet's renderings must be compared with those given us by William Meredith. There are two marked differences. Unlike Meredith, Miss Greet scrupulously follows Apollinaire's grammatical audacity and does not punctuate any of her translations. Thus, on purely technical grounds, she is closer to the original work. However, if we are to judge which book comes across better in English, then Meredith wins hands down. Take but a single example, the concluding quatrain of Le Pont Mirabeau: ""Passent les jours et passent les semaines/Ni temps passe/Ni les amours reviennent/Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine"" Here is Miss Greet: ""Days creep by and the weeks creep by/Neither past/Time nor loves return/Past Mirabeau bridge flows the Seine"" Here is Meredith: ""Nor days nor any time detain. /Time past or love/Can not come again. /Under Mirabeau Bridge flows the Seine."" As one can see, neither translation really captures Apollinaire's queerly moving simplicity. But Meredith, at least, preserves the rhyme scheme, and manages to invest some music and grace in otherwise banal lines. He also is willing to go out on his own, to tone up or down, rearrange or rephrase. Miss Greet is generally too literal. When ""Leurs coeurs bougent comme leurs portes"" becomes ""Their hearts gape like their doorways,"" it sounds simply silly. The collection is blessed with superb notes and a fine introductory essay.

Publisher: Univ. of California