Writing and Ruminating

Thoughts on writing, reading, and poetry. With the occasional diversion, bien sûr.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Autumn poetry primer, part 7

I'm back with another fall-themed poem; this time, one written in German, which I've translated myself. My translation is close enough to some of the others out there for me to feel confident in it, but I went at it with common sense and a dictionary, the same way I've done other translations. It's another rather pensive sort of poem, which suits today's wooly grey day just fine, I think. I've included the original German poem afterwards, and you can see a bit of what my translation has lost, even if you aren't fluent in German: the original has three stanzas, of three, four and five lines each, all of which were written in iambic pentameter (five iambic feet per line: taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM). Each of the original stanzas has a rhyme scheme (ABA CDDC EFFEF), which got lost in the translation. If you can read German, you'll see how Rilke played with his line breaks

Autumn Day
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Kelly R. Fineman

Lord: it is time. The summer was so huge.
Put your shadow on the sundial
and let your wind go through the fields.

Command the last fruits to ripen;
give them two more southerly days,
advancing them toward completion, and chasing
the last sweetness in the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house, builds nothing more.
Whoever is now alone, will remain long alone,
will watch, read and write long letters
and wander up and down the alleys,
when the leaves drift.


Herbsttag
by Rainer Maria Rilke, Paris, Sept. 21, 1902

Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr gross.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren lass die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Fruchten voll zu sein;
gieb innen noch zwei sudlichere Tage,
drange sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Susse in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blatter treiben.


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