Select Page

Painting and Psychoanalysis supporting the Translation of Poetry

The English poet Sir Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) claimed that something of him was to be found in The Lady of Shalott (first version in 1832, second version in 1842). A close reading of some stanzas shows that several translations miss the key-moment of the poem. If we consider the contemporary painting inspired by the poem and approach the writing of poetry as speech on the edge of the unconscious as explored by psychoanalysis, we can apprehend more clearly the significance of the Lady’s destiny seeing her working at a loom, as a metaphor for the poet’s creative process, himself a “translator” of experiences and sounds which he does not quite understand. The evolution of gender roles in our society, as revealed by some poems, legends or fairy tales, sharpens our perception of the main character.