The best translation by far that I have come across of Guillaume Apollinaire’s poetry is by Ron Padgett in a book published by the New York Review of Books in 2015 simply titled, Zone, Selected Poems.
When Ron Padgett renders Le Pont Mirabeau into English, he says he failed with the line, as all translators fail with the line
et comme L’Espérance est violente
but I think he does just fine with
And how violently alive is hope.
In the Vimeo below, you will hear Apollinaire reciting Le Pont Mirabeau, one of my favorite poems. He recorded it at the laboratory of Ferdinand Burnot, a prominent linguist and philologist, who remains very well regarded in France today. And he certainly got the poet down. We can hear Apollinaire’s fluid voice clearly among the scratches. Enjoy.
Zone, Selected Poems by Ron Padgett
Zone, Selected Poems is published by NYRB Poets. You can check them out here: