BI. Amy Lowell

19. To Fletcher, July 1920. Quoted in Katz (35), 1981, p. 137.

Lowell has been invited to lecture on ‘Oriental poetry’ at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, and asks Fletcher’s help with her preparation. Regarding Japanese poetry, she is ‘at sea’, and does not know of ‘any good translations’ except those of Hearn (see D9b). She recalls Fletcher’s preface to Japanese Prints (BH7), and wonders if he could recommend translations of Bashô (Ap), the Manyôshû (Ap), and the Kokinshû (Ap), or a source of ‘biographical material on . . . Japanese poets’. She finds Chamberlain’s Japanese translations (see D5a) to be ‘quite as bad as Giles’s of Chinese’, and does not want to use works that ‘have absolutely no flavour of the originals’. She believes that Fletcher knows much more about these matters than she, and that he is ‘the only person who has ever . . . really explained the object of the hokku’, and so she has ‘adapted’ his understanding whenever she has ‘had occasion to refer to that form’. It might be noted that Waley’s Japanese Poetry (D26a) had appeared in 1919, was in 1920 by far the most accurate English translation of Japanese verse, and remains respected and in print today. Lowell had been stung by Waley’s criticism of Fir-Flower Tablets (10), however, and writes here as if neither he nor his work existed.





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