WHAT, THE READER may ask, would ever drive anyone to attempt the virtually impossible task of translating poetry? Especially the poetry of so great, so elusive and so musical a poet as Arthur Rimbaud, whose very name, even if we know little of his poetry, conjures up genius, youth, violence, drugs and sex. Rimbaud, that wild, precocious French teenager, one of Verlaine's 'poètes maudits', or unsung poets.
In his Introduction to what must have been, apart from anything else, a monumental labour of love, Wyatt Mason touches on the philosophy of translation - does the translator go for literalism or liberty? In fact there is no right or wrong answer since this has to depend on what it