This review was published in Translation and Literature, No. 20: 3, 2011, 397-403, and is reproduced here in a pre-edited version.
Rosa Newmarch: Russophile and Poet
Review of Horae Amoris: The Collected Poems of Rosa Newmarch, ed. by John Holmes and Natasha Distiller (High Wycombe: Rivendale Press, 2010)
Rosa Newmarch (1857-1940) is best known as a music critic, writer of program notes for the earliest Proms, and mediator of Russian and Czech music to the English. She was also however a lyric poet, and a translator of poems from the Russian. The latter was a particularly important function, since her contemporary Constance Garnett overwhelmingly concerned herself with Russian prose. The current volume is the first collection of her original and translated poems. I argue that she shows more striking strengths as what the editors call a ‘queer’ poet of love, than as a translator – but that some of her poetic gifts are nonetheless apparent in her translations.
There is a strong case for producing this volume: both in order to enhance our understanding of the reception of Russian literature in England in the early twentieth century, and because the best of her original and translated poems deserve to be read alongside those of the Edwardian and Georgian poets who are better remembered: Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons, John Masefield, Isaac Rosenberg.