PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Colm Toibin on Thom Gunn's Letters Allice Hiller and Sasha Dugdale in conversation David Herman on the life of Edward W. Said Jena Schmitt on Hope Mirrlees Brian Morton: Now the Trees
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This review is taken from PN Review 231, Volume 43 Number 1, September - October 2016.

Cover of Peer Gynt and Brand Verse translations by Geoffrey Hill
Madeline PotterHenrik Ibsen
Peer Gynt and Brand
Verse translations by Geoffrey Hill
Penguin Classics
PUBLISHED LESS THAN two weeks after his eighty-forth birthday, Geoffrey Hill’s adaptation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt stands in contrast with his earlier adaptation of Brand, commissioned by the National Theatre nearly four decades ago. Hill’s Brand and Peer Gynt, published as one volume, are headed by an introduction by Janet Garton, and followed by an afterword taking the shape of an interview by Kenneth Haynes about the process of translating Ibsen. While Hill acknowledges that for both adaptations he has used literal annotated versions of the plays – Inga-Stina Ewbank’s for Brand and Janet Garton’s for Peer Gynt­ – his version of Peer Gynt marks a shift away from the short lines and oblique rhyming pattern of Brand, and towards an incorporation of greater variety in both line length and rhyme scheme into his verse.

Thus Hill’s rhymes are at times humorous and playfully engaging, as in ‘when you swagger about / the village, you lout’, and ‘you little shite! / […] That’s to requite!’, and at times loaded with a sense of grappling tenacity, rendered acoustically through the use of an adapted accentual rhythm, reminiscent of Anglo-Saxon poetry, as in Aase’s lament: ‘Everything pitched against me and against him – / earth, sky, the mountains that stand so grim’. Whether he complicates the original Dano-Norwegian pattern by substituting end-rhymes (‘Lunde / […] hunde’) with internal rhymes (‘[t]hey fought like dogs, the rogues’), simplifies the structure by replacing imperfect rhymes (‘sider/ […] blunder’) with perfect end-rhymes (‘side/ […] slide’), or attempts to echo the original ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image