Voltaire once said that “It is as impossible to translate poetry as it is to translate music.” And to this day there are those who argue that the translation of poetry is a contradiction in terms: how can a translator really reproduce in another language the uniquely concentrated and distilled utterance of a poetic text? After all, only the poet really knows what he or she is really saying, and the translator can merely hope to follow, providing an approximate equivalent.
There is also the question of how the translator can adequately reproduce the formal aspects of a poem, especially if it's a poem written in regular meter and rhyme. How can those attributes be reconstructed in another language without the special link between form, word and meaning being lost? Rhymes are often vital flags in a poem, drawing the eye and the mind in a particular direction toward a special meaning or shade of meaning.
A translation of a poem is bound to be a compromise. Charles Simic said that what survives the translation of a poem is poetry. And sometimes, rarely, poetry translations acquire a life and energy of their own - when that happens, the poem is reborn, and enters a dimension that was unknown to its creator.
So: in poetry is traduttore (translator) always traditore (traitor, betrayer)? Or are there exceptions to the rule?