What makes Schmidt’s poem such a pleasure is the enumeration of crime upon crime, the devilish voice of the speaker, and the comic musicality of the meter, rhythm and rhyme. And of course Schmidt’s own indulged humour, recognisable to most parents, who try not to laugh, whilst attempting to correct their wayward offspring.
The translators of this poem have really taken up Schmidt’s example. The judges thoroughly enjoyed the sense of fun and inventiveness of the translators. There were so many excellent translations to choose from. It was with regret that we had to eliminate many. For this reason we ended up choosing two winners, David Colmer and Paul Vincent. Renée Delhez, and Sadiqa de Meijer also produced lovely translations.
The two winners are interesting in that they demonstrate entirely different approaches to the translation of the poem. David Colmer has captured the sense of fun in the original, inventing calumny upon calumny, and in doing so almost creating a new poem. Together with a number of the translators he felt the need to update the poem, whereby the milkman and his horse disappear. Paul Vincent follows the original more closely, but creates an equally witty and playful translation in English.Paul Evans