ROBERT BURNS, 1759-1796

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Island 8: Translations of Burns

The Roy Collection contains translations of Burns's poems in a variety of languages. In addition to the items separately described here, the exhibit displayed translations into Norwegian, Spanish, Polish, Italian, and English; a poster from the Moscow 1975 Burns conference, with Samuil Marshak's translation of "For a' that;" and a broadsheet with a French translation of "Auld lang syne," by the French-Canadian Benjamin Sulte.

James Grahame, 1765-1811 
Poems in English, Scotch, and Latin 
Paisley: Printed by J. Neilson, 1794. 
Modern boards, paper label on spine.

Apparently the earliest translation of a poem by Burns into another language was made by James Grahame, who included in his Poems in English, Scotch, and Latin a Latin version in parallel text of "To a mouse."

Robert Burns 
The principal songs of Robert Burns translated into mediæval Latin verse 
Edinburgh: William P. Nimmo, 1862. 
Original green cloth, bevelled boards, gold-stamped.

The Victorian taste for Latin was exemplified by three translations of Burns into that language. The present one is, however, the only book-length collection.

Egerer 1225

Robert Burns 
Poésies complètes de Robert Burns 
Paris: Adolphe Delahays, 1843. 
Original yellow printed wrappers.

Interest in Burns was high in France during the 19th century, and there were a number of translations by various hands published in journals. In 1826 a slim volume of translations appeared, but it was not until Léon de Wailly's edition of 1843 that a substantial number of poems appeared in one volume in French.

Egerer 1187

Robert Burns 
Burns traduit de l'Écossais 
Rouen: E. Cagniard, 1874. 
Original blue-gray printed wrappers; inscribed by the translator to Adam Wilson.

Richard de la Madelaine's translation into French underlines the difficulty of creating the rhymed poetry of one language in another language retaining the rhyme; de la Madelaine's prose version attempted to retain the essence of the poem, but at the price of sacrificing its lyric quality.

Egerer 1188

Robert Burns 
Lieder und Balladen 
Braunschweig: George Westermann, 1840. 
Original purple cloth.

Translations of Burns into German abounded in the second half of the 19th century. The earliest book of translation appeared in 1839, and was followed a year later by this collection, the work of Heinrich Julius Heintze.

Egerer 1194

Robert Burns 
Robert Burns' Lieder und Balladen 
Leipzig: Philipp Reclam, 1875. 
Original buff printed wrappers.

The Leipzig publisher Philipp Reclam specialized in producing inexpensive editions of standard works of literature. L. G. Silbergleit's translation of Burns was one of this series, first in 1875, and then frequently reprinted.

Egerer 1202

Robert Burns 
Robert Berns v perevodakh 
Moscow: Khudogestvenni Litteraturi, 1947. 
Original dark green cloth; inscribed to G. Ross Roy by the translator's son, 1975.

Samuil Marshak's was the most notable of the Russian translations of Burns. Of this first edition, although published in 15,000 copies, almost no copies made their way outside Russia. Marshak increased the number of translated poems, eventually producing a two-volume edition.

When this copy was presented, the translator's son Immanuel was Curator of the Marshak Museum, set up in Marshak's apartment after his death in 1964.

Cf. Egerer 1231

Toshio Nanba, 1910-1987 
Poems of Robert Burns 
Tokyo: Daigakusyorin, 1969.

Although not the only person to translate Burns into Japanese, Toshio Nanba (also transcribed "Namba") devoted most of his academic career to the task of producing several volumes of translations. He also published The life of the poet Robert Burns(1977).

Robert Burns 
Bardachd Raibeirt Burns an gaidhlig 
Dun-eideann: Ruairidh MacDhomhnaill, 1992. 
Original blue pictorial wrappers, comb-bound.

This is the first translation into any language of the complete works of Robert Burns. The reason that it took so long for this to occur is that no earlier translation could legally print the bawdy material; after 1964 this could be included, and Roderick Macdonald's translation into Gaelic did so. The initial edition was twenty-five copies, of which this is No. 10. Further copies have since been produced.

Robert Burns 
50 poemas 
Rio de Janeiro: Relume-Dumar, 1994. 
Original pictorial wrappers.

To Luiza Lobo, who holds her doctorate from the University of South Carolina, belongs the honor of producing this first book of translations of Burns into Portuguese. In Brazil the edition was ingeniously packaged with a small bottle of whiskey.


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