Paul Valéry is pretty much out of reach for those not fluent in French language and culture, but William H.Gass gives us deep insights in The World Within the Word.
For example: the chambermaid whose presence the poet barely registers as she quietly tends to his rooms, moves “as glass passes through sunlight/ without trembling the balance of my thought”
Comme passé le verre au travers du soliel
Et de la raison pure épargne l’appareil.
Gass tells us that in “The Rower,” Valéry imagines, in the water, “objects and their reflections…to be like the images of burning which smoked the walls of Plato’s cave…The boat’s prow is urged to divide the world which seems painted in the water, shattering its calm so that of such a massive stillness no memory will remain.”
And, in the same poem (in David Paul’s version) the poet describes floating into the sunlight from beneath the darkness of a bridge:
Lowers its sensitive suns, its ready eyelids,
Until with a leap that clothes me with jewels
I plunge into the disdain of all that idle azure.
And (switching lingos) when Catullus says: “Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love, and value at one penny the murmurs of disapproving old men.” Tom Stoppard recasts the last clause:
“and not give tuppence for the mutterence of old men’s tut-tutterence.” (‘The Invention of Love’)
Now that’s translatin!