Thursday, 31 August 2017

Georg Trakl: 'De Profundis' in English translation

De profundis

It is a stubble-field where black rain falls.
It is a dark-brown tree that stands alone.
It is a soughing wind that swirls round empty huts –
How dismal this evening.

Passing the hamlet
The gentle orphan girl still gathers scanty ears of corn.
Round and golden her eyes feast on the gathering dusk,
Her lap yearning for the heavenly bridegroom.

On their way home
The shepherds found the darling body
Rotting in the briers.

I am a shadow far from desolate villages.
God’s silence
I drank from the springs of the grove.

Cold metal meets my temples.
Spiders seek out my heart.
There is a light that guts in my mouth.

At night I found myself on a heath,
Stiffening with dirt and dust from the stars.
In the thicket of hazels
Crystal angels once more sounded.


Thursday, 24 August 2017

Monday, 21 August 2017

Rilke: 'Sei allem Abschied voran' - this year's attempt at translation (2017)



(XIII)

Sei allem Abschied voran, als wäre er hinter
dir, wie der Winter, der eben geht.
Denn unter Wintern ist einer so endlos Winter,
daß, überwinternd, dein Herz überhaupt übersteht.

Sei immer tot in Eurydike -, singender steige,
preisender steige zurück in den reinen Bezug.
Hier, unter Schwindenden, sei, im Reiche der Neige,
sei ein klingendes Glas, das sich im Klang schon zerschlug.

Sei - und wisse zugleich des Nicht-Seins Bedingung,
den unendlichen Grund deiner innigen Schwingung,
daß du sie völlig vollziehst dieses einzige Mal.

Zu dem gebrauchten sowohl, wie zum dumpfen und stummen
Vorrat der vollen Natur, den unsäglichen Summen,
zähle dich jubelnd hinzu und vernichte die Zahl.


(XIII)

Be in advance of each parting, as if unbending
past, like the winter that soon is gone.
For among winters exists one so without ending
that, if well-wintered, despite all your heart will live on.

Be ever dead in Eurydice –, sing while ascending
praise while descending into what’s sheer in its ground.
Here, midst the dwindling, be, in the death that’s impending,
be a clear-ringing glass which turned to shards in mid-sound.

Be – and know the condition of being’s negation,
the quite infinite source of your own oscillation,
that you completely fulfil this in one single phase.

To what’s been used up and likewise the dull and the numbing
bounty of nature’s great hoard, the unspeakable humming,
joyfully reckon yourself, and that number erase.


Monday, 14 August 2017

A poem by Johannes Immerzeel (1776-1841)



Grafschrift van een filosoof

Naakt was ik, toen ik werd geboren;
Naakt lig ik onder dezen steen;
‘k Heb, sedert ik op aard verscheen,
Dus niets gewonnen of verloren.

Is ’t wonder, dat de mensch in ’t leven
Het beste spoor zoo moeilijk vindt?
Twee gidsen, die hem voort doen streven,
En beurtlings wenk en spoorslag geven,
Fortuin en Min zijn beiden blind.


A philosopher’s epitaph

Quite naked I arrived here at my birth;
Quite naked I lie too beneath this stone;
No gain or loss I thus have ever known
Since I made my appearance on this earth.

So is it any wonder that a man
Should maybe find the best path hard to find?
Two guides that fuel his search to find a plan,
And wave and point in turns is all they can,
Fortune and Love are both completely blind.

Thursday, 10 August 2017