Weissbort's intention was to end his tenure with the series Modern Poetry in Translation with an issue devoted, in part, to Eastern Europe, as the first book in the MPT series (1965) was largely devoted to this region or, more precisely, to the first post-War generation of poets, such as Zbigniew Herbert, Miroslav Holub, and Vasko Popa. In this most recent volume of MPT, Weissbort explores the changed landscape of the past thirty years, including interviews with writers of succeeding generations and a few survivors from the Herbert generation.
Other features of Looking Eastward include a broad selection of MPT co-founder Ted Hughes' unpublished translations from various languages and time periods.
One of these translations is a long poem by the Hungarian poet Ferenc Juhasz, “The Boy Changed into a Stag Cries out at the Gate of Secrets.” Hughes saw the poem, in a version by Kenneth McRobbie, in a 1963 anthology of Hungarian writing, introduced by W.H. Auden who described it as “one of the greatest poems written in my time.” Hughes produced his own version in the latter part of the Sixties while Weissbort was visiting him in Devon, perhaps to discuss a projected Hungarian issue of MPT, which was to be guest-edited by the Hungarian poet Janos Csokits, with whom Hughes later translated the poetry of Janos Pilinszky. It is appropriate that this poem should appear now, so many years later, in the series for which it was originally intended. What is intriguing about this translation, of course, is that Hughes felt able to rewrite or, as it were, to translate the English version, without reference to any source text, whereas in other circumstances, such as when faced by the poet himself or by the source text itself in a literal translation, he felt compelled to stay as close as possible to the wording and even syntax of the original.
Edited by Daniel Weissbort
ISBN 0-9533824-9-4 (paper)
5½ x 8½