Friday, December 10, 2010
Dancing With Rilke
My friend, Conal Boyce, shared with me by handwritten snail mail a poem by Ranier Maria Rilke called Immer Wieder. He said that I reminded him of this poem as he read one of my early posts. He gave me two translations, one by Robert Bly and one by Donald Prate. So that is what this posting is about. As I write I am playing Henryk Gorecki's Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs. I will give you first the German, Rilke's poem in German. Then Robert Bly's attempt follows and then Donald Prate's work. Last I shall give you the poem I wrote tonight to the translated thoughts of Rilke, supported by the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.
Conal only used two special characters. I know how to find them in Word. I will trust that he is right and there are no more. I am a singer. I have sung German many times, Bach's Christmas Oratorio for one, so I am not completely at sea with German. I know what it sounds like when we sing it. Also, I am trusting my friend to have preserved Rilke's capitalization. I will pass the capitalization along that way since it was easy to look up "chasm" and I knew the others. I wonder why the translator's didn't. I think Ranier meant it.
Immer wieder, ob wir der Liebe Landschaft auch kennen
und den klienen Kirchhof mit seinen klagenden Namen
und die furchtbar verschweigende Schlucht, in wecher die andern
enden: immer weider gehn wir zu zweien hinaus
unter die alten Bäume, lagern uns immer wieder
zwischen die Blumen, gegenüber dem Himmel.
- Rilke, 1914
Again, again, even if we know the Countryside of Love,
and the tiny Churchyard with it's Names mourning,
and the Chasm, more and more silent, terrifying, into which the others
dropped: we walk out together anyway
beneath the ancient trees, we lie down again,
again among the flowers, and face the sky.
Time And Again
however well we know the Landscape of Love,
and the little Churchyard with lamenting names,
and the frightfully silent Ravine wherein all the others
end: time and again we go out two together,
under the old trees, lie down again and again
between the flowers, face to face with the sky.
I read all three. Then I said it like this. The poem came quickly. Transcribing was much slower.
How We Love Again
(Dancing With Rilke)
Say it again, love.
Tell me the truth as if you
were before the cross
at your back. Look at the stones,
the upright curling
whispers of the stones.
Hear them ease out songs, true tales
of the old abyss
in the core of love
and how we love anyway,
again and again
standing as trees stand,
colorful flowers blazing
in the wind of fall
though we know snow comes,
though we know the weight, terror's
weight, moaning dry wind,
and still we lie down
together in sere gardens,
again and again
wedded in love's way,
you and me and all the rest,
again and again,
how we face the sky.
December 10, 2010 6:50 PM