Friday, 29 March 2019

zkv83

ZKV83

edgitha

A couple of days back, I received a mail from CO USA, asking me about a shared ancestor, Edgitha. It’s not a name you can easily forget. Did I know if – and if so at which cemetery – she and her husband were buried in British soil? I managed to find a possible location. Today my US ‘relation’ writes that the cemetery has confirmed that they lie buried there. ‘It’s strangely satisfying when things about your (distant) past fall into place,’ I wrote back. It is. Our common ancestor, Henry Irons (1825-1883) may well be chuckling in his grave.
It is a lovely early spring evening. The pigeons are planing like paper darts in slow motion, the sparrows are chittering away, and I feel a ‘consanguity’ with all living creatures. Anyone, no everyone, I meet I am distantly related to. There is no Creexit. It’s time to drain the water off the local butcher’s home-smoked tenderloin, do the carrots and cauliflower al dente, rake through the rice and tell my wife dinner’s ready.


Monday, 25 March 2019

Joachim du Bellay: 'Les Regrets' in English translation

Sonnet XXXI – Les Regrets

Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage,
Ou comme cestuy là qui conquit la toison,
Et puis est retourné, plein d’usage et raison,
Vivre entre ses parents le reste de son aage !

Quand revoiray-je, hélas, de mon petit village
Fumer la cheminée, et en quelle saison,
Revoiray-je le clos de ma pauvre maison,
Qui m’est une province, et beaucoup d’avantage ?

Plus me plaist le séjour qu’ont basty mes ayeux,
Que des palais Romains le front audacieux,
Plus que le marbre dur me plaist l’ardoise fine,

Plus mon Loyre Gaulois, que le Tybre Latin,
Plus mon petit Lyré, que le mont Palatin,
Et plus que l’air marin la doulceur Angevine.



Sonnet XXXI - Regrets

Happy, like Ulysses, the one whose journey’s done,
Or like that man of fame who gained the golden fleece
And then returned, more seasoned and more wise, to Greece
To live among his own with all his battles won!

When will I see, alas, the smoke from chimneys rise
Once more in my small village, at what time of year
I see once more the plot of my poor home so dear
That is to me a province – more, despite its size?

More pleasing is the place my ancestors have built
Than Roman palaces, their grandeur and their gilt,
More than the marble’s hardness does my fine slate please,

More than Tiber’s swift waters, my Loire calm and still,
More my Lyré so small than the Palatine Hill,
And more than strong sea-air, the Angevine soft breeze. 

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Thor Sørheim: 'Tapt terreng' in English translation

TAPT TERRENG

Jeg nøler ikke med å komme
på etterskudd når løvtrærne samler seg
bladløse på kollene og rimet har festet
et fuktig lag på brukarene, jeg går

langs strandkanten og hører isen
legge seg med dumpe smell, det er
vinteren som skyves inn i et mørkt
pakkhus, tunge dører åpnes

og lukkes igjen, lenger og lenger
inn i kulda, jeg stritter imot
når hyllemetrene fylles med vissent
gras og uavhentede kjærlighetserklæringer,

det tar tid å vente på den blå frostrøyken
som skal klarere alle papirer, litt etter litt,
og feste en rosa fraktseddel på vest-
himmelen skrått over grantrærne.


LOST GROUND

I do not hesitate to trail
behind when the deciduous trees gather
leafless on the hillsides and rime has fixed
a moist coating to the bridge piers, I walk

along the shore and can hear the ice
settling with thudding reports, it is
winter that is being shoved into a dark
warehouse, heavy doors being opened

and shut once more, farther and farther
into the cold, I offer resistance
when the shelf space is filled with withered
grass and unfetched declarations of love,

it takes time to wait for the blue frost-smoke
that is to clear away all papers, little by little,
and fix a pink consignment note to the western
sky obliquely above the spruce trees.


Thor Sørheim: 'Komposthaugen' in English translation

KOMPOSTHAUGEN

Jeg legger vissent løv og de tynneste kvistene
lagvis i bingen, strør over med kalk, rosebladene
som falt fra altfor tidlig, sparer jeg til en siste hilsen,

jeg hører ingen stemmer, men bjørka er blitt gul,
og varmen i komposten vil stige når materien råtner,
så lenge som mulig vil jeg gå barbeint i graset,

jeg har aldri sett en brennende tornebusk,
død blir til jord og jord blir til nytt liv, jeg er aldri
i tvil om når jeg nærmer meg hellige steder.


THE COMPOST HEAP

I place withered leaves and the thinnest of twigs
in layers in the bin, sprinkle lime on top, the rose petals
that fell off far too early I save for a final greeting,

I can hear no voices, but the birch has turned yellow,
and the heat in the compost will rise as the matter rots,
as long as possible I will walk barefoot in the grass,

I have never seen a burning bush,
death becomes earth and earth becomes new life, I am
never in doubt as to when I am approaching holy places.


Friday, 22 March 2019

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's poem 'Die Biene' in English translation

Die Biene

Als Amor in den goldnen Zeiten
Verliebt in Schäferlustbarkeiten
Auf bunten Blumenfeldern lief,
Da stach den kleinsten von den Göttern,
Ein Bienchen, das in Rosenblättern,
Wo es sonst Honig holte, schlief.

Durch diesen Stich ward Amor klüger.
Der unerschöpfliche Betrüger
Sann einer neuen Kriegslist nach:
Er lauscht’ in Rosen und Violen;
Und kam ein Mädchen sie zu holen,
Flog er als Bien’ heraus, und stach.


The Bee

When Cupid back in ages Thracian
Love-struck with creative elation
Through meadows bright with flowers leapt,
The smallest of the gods did sting him,
A bee which, to rose-petals clinging,
And now not seeking honey, slept.


This painful sting made Cupid shrewder.
The inexhaustible deluder
His ruse of war now took to wing:
In violets and roses hidden,
Should a young maid pass by, unbidden
He would as bee fly out, and sting.


Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Jacobus Revius: 'Antichrist' (1630)

Antichrist

    Should e’er the shaggy snow not coat the Alps so high,
Should e’er the summer’s warmth be turned to shiv’ring cold,
Should e’er the sky above from earth its dew withhold,
Should e’er all living beasts the Oceans lick quite dry,
    Should e’er the far North Pole as lodestone fail to attract,
Should e’er the grey-furred wolf with timid sheep keep faith,
Should e’er maid turn to man, or man with maid change place,
Should e’er the earth stretch round the heavens’ endless tract,
    Should e’er the sun and moon their orbits fixed exchange,
Should e’er a human hand high heaven’s hand outrange,
Should e’er the Seraphim their Maker fail to trust,
    Should e’er the Lord’s great might and goodness helpless lie,
Should e’er God’s Son once more upon the cruel cross die,
Then will the Antichrist God’s children grind to dust.

 To see the original poem, go to here.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Marjoleine de Vos: 'Wer jetzt kein Haus hat' in English translation

WER JETZT KEIN HAUS HAT

Begraven worden ergens, nu vooruit
ik weet wel waar het fluitekruid met luchtig kant
het voorjaar vult. Maar hoe te sterven eerst
hoe weten waar het oog graag rust
waar alles zo dat je besluiten kunt
om weg te gaan.

Is dat je leven fout geleefd werd
af te zien aan geen vertrouwde plaats
die voorbestemd lijkt voor vaarwel?
Als je een huis gebouwd had, dan wist je 't wel.


WER JETZT KEIN HAUS HAT

To be buried somewhere, well okay
I know well where cow parsley with its slender stem
now fills the spring. But how to die means you first
need to know where the eye would rest
where all is right for you to then decide
to take your leave.

Is that your life’s been wrongly lived
seen from the lack of a familiar place
that seems predestined for farewell?
Had you but built a house, you would know full well.


REVISED VERSION

The title comes from a Rilke poem. To see it in German and English, go to here

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Inger Hagerup: 'Vi holder livet' in English translation

VI HOLDER LIVET

Vi holder livet i en knyttet hånd.
Vårt hjerte må bestandig ha det sånn.

Det tåler gjerne spott og overlast
når bare det får holde noe fast.

En mann, et barn, en drøm skal være vår
og evigheten måles ut i år.

For i vår gåtefulle, blinde angst
blir alle ting erobring eller fangst.

Vi bærer skrekken med oss natt og dag,
den bleke skrekk for hjertets nederlag.


LIFE WITH A CLENCHED FIST 

Life with a clenched fist we hold onto tight.
For every heart this is a constant plight.

It copes with mockery and overload
as long as it has something firm to hold.

For husband, child or dream we persevere –
eternity’s but measured year by year.

For out of our quite blind and baffling fear
all’s viewed as catch and conquest crystal clear.

Our dread we bear within us night and day
the pale dread of our heart as helpless prey.


M. Nijhoff: 'Con sordino' in English translation

Con sordino

She said to me: ‘You are a prince in bed.’
Upon the frozen pane ice flowers were sprayed.
Nestling between cools sheets as if unmade,
Our body by fatigue now lay outspread.

After this snow the whole world’s born anew
And this night over I’m once more a child.
Be kind to my simplicity whose mild
Voice speaks like medieval paintings do.

See behind pines the castle turrets stand,
And like a slanting beam on the horizon
The sunlight breaking over pious land!

A knight through meadows canters with his love:
He whistles to his dogs, she sees the falcon
Now risen from her gauntlet soar above.


To see the original poem, go to here

Friday, 15 March 2019

M. Nijhoff: 'Impasse' in English translation

Impasse

Wij stonden in de keuken, zij en ik.
Ik dacht al dagen lang: vraag het vandaag.
Maar omdat ik mij schaamde voor mijn vraag
wachtte ik het onbewaakte ogenblik.

Maar nu, haar bezig ziend in haar bedrijf,
en de kans hebbend die ik hebben wou
dat zij onvoorbereid antwoorden zou,
vroeg ik: waarover wil je dat ik schrijf?

Juist vangt de fluitketel te fluiten aan,
haar hullend in een wolk die opwaarts schiet
naar de glycine door het tuimelraam.

Dan antwoordt zij, terwijl zij langzaamaan
druppelend water op de koffie giet
en zich de geur verbreidt: ik weet het niet.


Impasse

We stood there in the kitchen, she and I.
I’d had the thought for days: ask her today.
Ashamed to ask, I waited for the stray
unguarded moment, though, to make my try.

But seeing her now busy at her tasks
and realising that I had the chance
she’d answer without thinking in advance,
What would you have me write about? I asked.

Just then the whistling kettle starts to blow,
concealing her in rushing steam that soars
through slanting window up to purple rain.

And she replies, while drop by drop she pours
the boiling water on the coffee grains
and the aroma spreads out: I don’t know.


Friday, 8 March 2019

Rough draft of a translation of Baudelaire's 'Harmonie du soir'

Harmonie du soir

Voici venir le temps où vibrant sur sa tige
Chaque fleur s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir;
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!

Chaque fleur s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir;
Le violon frémit comme un cœur qu’on afflige;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige !
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir.

Le violon frémit comme un cœur qu’on afflige,
Un cœur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir;
Le soleil s’est noyé dans son sang qui se fige.

Un cœur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir,
Du passé lumineux recueille tout vestige!
Le soleil s’est noyé dans son sang qui se fige…
Ton souvenir en moi luit comme un ostensoir !


Evening harmony

Now comes the time when on its trembling stem below
Just like a censer every flower evaporates;
In evening air the sounds and perfumes all gyrate;
A melancholy waltz and languid vertigo!

Just like a censer every flower evaporates;
The fiddle shudders like a heart struck by some blow;
A melancholy waltz and languid vertigo!
The sky’s sad, lovely altar of repose awaits.

The fiddle shudders like a heart struck by some blow,
A tender heart which hates the great void’s pitch-black spate;
The sky’s sad, lovely altar of repose awaits;
In its own clotting blood the sun has drowned its glow.

A tender heart, which hates the great void’s pitch-black spate,
Now puts each vestige of its radiant past on show;
In its own clotting blood the sun has drowned its glow...
Your memory in me now monstrance-like dilates!




Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Inger Hagerup: 'Rødstrupe' in English translation

Rødstrupe

Ingen har lettere halefjær
og rødere silkeskjorte.
Og ingen kan være så plutselig nær
og bli så plutselig borte.

Hvile seg litt på et lubbent nek
og muntert på vakt med blikket:
Mennesket er et ufarlig krek,
for fly kan det heldigvis ikke!


Robin redbreast

No one has tail-feathers quite as light
and red silk shirt any brighter.
And can quite so suddenly flash into sight,
so suddenly vanish either.

Resting a while on its chubby neck,
its gaze so merry yet wary:
Humans are hopeless, can’t even peck
and since they can’t fly quite unscary!