i believe that translations should be close to the meaning as much as possible; the attention towards form is only secondary and must not pose a hindrance for our primary objective of conveying the meaning. when we translate someone’s work, we are their agents, the intermediaries. hence we must avoid replacing the original ideas with our own. an envoy is sent to convey the message; if he embellishes it in such a way that the original message is lost or distorted, the envoy is an incompetent one – it doesn’t matter if he is articulate or eloquent. a translator is faced with a daunting task – particularly when translating poetry and especially between different language families. it is far easy to translate verse and rhyme from latin to english – than from arabic/persian to english. for example take the translations of virgil’s aeneid. virgil’s aeneid in latin: http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=35285&pageno=5 dryden’s translation in english: http://classics.mit.edu/Virgil/aeneid.1.i.html williams’ translation in english: http://tinyurl.com/nto5w where williams tries to convey the meaning and hence is closer to the original, dryden stylizes the translation. in my view, it is a separate creative work by dryden BASED on virgil’s aeneid. that is the ideas of virgil are presented in dryden’s tongue. ---- or take the celebrated song of the reed from farsi: http://www.dar-al-masnavi.org/reedsong.html#4. i suppose the closest to the original is nicholson’s unrhymed translation. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- as always, this question must be asked prior to everything else – why do we need the translation in the first place? if it is just for entertainment, like making a piece of art (poetry in our case) accessible to a wider audience, the translator has a lot of freedom. i mean nobody will bat an eyelid if homer or virgil are ‘modified.’ but it makes a great difference when religious matters are translated – poetic licence is not just curtailed, it is revoked. alaHazrat’s poetry – inspite of being artistic – is essentially religious. and one ought to be careful in what is being attributed to the imam. if a translator is gifted and a talented poet himself, he can match the rhyme which enhances the beauty – but never should he sacrifice the meaning for mere form. this is true even for someone who creates an original; shaykh sa’adi is said to have sacrificed the meter rather than the meaning in certain places – inspite of his being a master of both art (poetry) and science (language). http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/saadi/saadi.php alaHazrat, the gifted artist comments on the issue thus: jo kahey sheyr o paas e shar’a donoN ka Husn kyuNkar aay laa usey pesh e jalwah e zamzamah e razaa ke yuN if one asks, how it is possible to have beautiful verse, and be strictly within bounds of shariah – bring him to bask in the brilliant and glorious verse of Raza and tell him: ‘it is, in this manner.’ certainly, a man with talents like alaHazrat can say that; yet the gnostic in alaHazrat and the scholar says: sana e sarkar hai wazifah qubul e sarkar hai tamanna na shayari ki hawas na parwah, rawi thi kya kayse qafiye the praising the master is my pray’r; his acceptance is what i aspire- i hanker not for poesy, nor care; nor rhyme or meter am i aware.