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Review: As I Said, by Lev Loseff

Smith's translations are a labour of love and skill, nowhere better seen than in the palindromic Toilette or the many instances of terza rima. Tonally and emotionally, they are perfectly pitched. Such formal and verbal precision reminds us, as does Smith himself in a smartly concise preface, that translation estranges us from the original. Linguistic and prosodic fidelity of the most scrupulous kind are estimable virtues, but the forms of poetry are also the forms of thought and emotion. Poets in the English and American traditions would hear their own thoughts and emotions according to a different music and different traditions. To read Lev Loseff in these brilliant translations is to come as close as possible to hearing Russian poetry in the English language, and that is no mean feat.