Five Moving Poetry Collections in Translation

Poetry is a language of emotions, ones that transcend borders and cultures. It is a means of expressing the most profound human experiences and feelings. While some poets write directly in English, many remarkable voices are found in languages worldwide. Thanks to the art of translation, readers are able to access these treasures and discover the diverse tapestry of global poetry. If you’re new to translations or just looking for new favorites, don’t miss these five moving poetry collections translated into English.

The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems by Pablo Neruda (Translated by Mark Eisner)

Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet and diplomat, remains an enduring figure in world literature. In The Essential Poems, expertly translated by Mark Eisner, readers are invited into Neruda’s vast poetic landscape. This collection captures the essence of Neruda’s work, spanning his prolific career. From his passionate odes to everyday objects to his politically charged verses, this translation does justice to Neruda’s evocative imagery and lyrical style. Through Eisner’s skillful editing, readers can fully appreciate the sensuous and profound beauty of Neruda’s words.


The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke by Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Austrian writer Rainer Maria Rilke, a towering figure in German poetry, has had his work translated into numerous languages. Among the many English translations of his poems, Stephen Mitchell’s The Selected Poetry stands out as a remarkable rendition. Mitchell’s translation captures the profound spiritual and existential themes that run through Rilke’s poetry. With meticulous attention to Rilke’s intricate metaphors and symbolism, Mitchell invites readers to explore the depths of human consciousness and the mysteries of existence, making this collection an essential addition to any poetry lover’s library.

The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa (Translated by Robert Hass)

Haiku, a traditional form of Japanese poetry, is celebrated for its brevity and ability to convey deep emotions in a few carefully chosen words. In The Essential Haiku, Robert Hass brings to life the works of three renowned haiku masters: Basho, Buson, and Issa. Hass’s translations are not only accurate but also beautifully capture the essence of each poet’s unique style. This collection offers readers an opportunity to savor the delicate beauty and profound simplicity of these classic haikus while gaining insights into the natural world and the human condition.


Twentieth Century Russian Poetry: Silver and Steel edited by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (Various Translators)

Russian poetry has a rich and tumultuous history, with countless voices that have left an indelible mark on literature. The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century Russian Poetry, edited by Yevgeny Yevtushenko and translated by various experts, presents a comprehensive selection of Russian poems from the turbulent 20th century. The translations in this anthology maintain the musicality and emotional depth of the original works, allowing readers to explore the works of iconic poets like Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, and Boris Pasternak. This anthology offers a window into the soul of Russia during a century of immense change and upheaval.


Rumi: The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing by Jalaluddin Rumi (Translated by Coleman Barks)

The Persian mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi’s poetry has transcended centuries and continues to resonate with readers worldwide. In Love Poems, Coleman Barks provides an exquisite translation that captures the spiritual and devotional essence of Rumi’s verses. Barks, a renowned Rumi scholar, infuses the translations with a contemporary touch, making Rumi’s timeless wisdom accessible to modern audiences. These poems delve into themes of love, spirituality, and the search for divine truth, inviting readers to embark on a journey of inner exploration and enlightenment.


These five exceptional poetry collections translated into English demonstrate the power of language to bridge cultures and bring the world’s poetic treasures to a wider audience. Through the meticulous and empathetic work of skilled translators, readers can savor the nuances, emotions, and cultural richness of these poetic voices. Whether you are drawn to the sensuous verses of Pablo Neruda, the philosophical depth of Rainer Maria Rilke, the concise beauty of Japanese haikus, the tumultuous history of Russian poetry, or the spiritual wisdom of Jalaluddin Rumi, these translations offer a glimpse into the diverse and profound world of global poetry.