Sorley MacLean was a Scottish poet who worked in Gaelic. This was the language of his poem, Hallaig, about the Highland clearances and how time changes our perception of history. However, he also provided an English translation. Here are the opening stanzas.
Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig
The window is nailed and boarded
through which I saw the West
and my love is at the Burn of Hallaig,
a birch tree, and she has always been
between Inver and Milk Hollow,
here and there about Baile-chuirn:
she is a birch, a hazel,
a straight, slender young rowan.
In Screapadal of my people
where Norman and Big Hector were,
their daughters and their sons are a wood
going up beside the stream.
In 2002 famed poet Seamus Heaney offered a new translation. In parts, it is markedly different from the original although the broad meaning is preserved. Here is his version of the above text.
Time, the deer, is in Hallaig Wood
There's a board nailed across the window
I looked through to see the west
And my love is a birch forever
By Hallaig Stream, at her tryst
Between Inver and Milk Hollow,
somewhere around Baile-chuirn,
A flickering birch, a hazel,
A trim, straight sapling rowan.
In Screapadal, where my people
Hail from, the seed and breed
Of Hector Mor and Norman
By the banks of the stream are a wood
When I first read the translation, it struck me as almost rude: why would someone, even of Heaney's stature, feel they could do a better job of translating something than the original author?
On reflection, I am not aware of any other instances of a work translated by its original author being re-translated by other writers. Are there any? What additional insight might such re-translations offer?