Does it make sense to translate poetry?

A while back I was listening to CBC radio. Shelagh Rogers was interviewing some poet. There was nothing terribly interesting until they spoke about the poets work being translated into some non-Indo-European tongue.

And I thought, "Does that make sense?"

I can understand transliterating a poetic work (say Njal's Saga, or The Odyssey), but I am not so sure that translating poems is really sensible. The original meaning, play of the language, lyricism is lost. Even a good translation is only a pale imitation of the original (except, it seems, when Akira Kurosawa adapts Shakespeare).

A good example of this is the haiku. I've read some translated haiku - they seem weird to me. On the other hand, maybe it is the form of the haiku that seems weird to me.


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