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Unread 06-09-2019, 07:55 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
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Hi Andrew, hi Allen,

Andrew, the translation isn't terrible, it just says things like "I lift the eyes" or "goldenly" or "the blueness" - a bit Yellow Submarine-y in fact. Trakl writes free verse, so it's possible to stick fairly closely to syntax and vocabulary without massacring the poem. The bilingual edition I mentioned is certainly worth considering for anyone interested.
Allen, I do love Morgenstern, funny and light and sometimes thoughtful. Very German. I don't know if you've tried Brecht or Benn or George, but if not, they're worth a look. Here meanwhile is Celan's Todesfuge, which is a contender, with the Duineser Elegien and maybe the Moritat von Mackie Messer, for the most famous German poem of the last 100 years. Translation by Michael Hamburger:

Death Fugue

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink and we drink it
we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair
Margarete
he writes it and steps out of doors and the stars are flashing he
whistles his pack out
he whistles his Jews out in earth has them dig for a grave
he commands us strike up for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink in the morning at noon we drink you at sundown
we drink and we drink you
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair
Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith we dig a grave in the breezes there
one lies unconfined.

He calls out jab deeper into the earth you lot you others sing now
and play
he grabs at the iron in his belt he waves it his eyes are blue
jab deeper you lot with your spades you others play on for the
dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon in the morning we drink you at sundown
we drink you and we drink you
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith he plays with the serpents

He calls out more sweetly play death death is a master from
Germany
he calls out more darkly now stroke your strings then as smoke
you will rise into air
then a grave you will have in the clouds there one lies unconfined

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon death is a master from Germany
we drink you at sundown and in the morning we drink and we
drink you
death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue
he strikes you with leaden bullets his aim is true
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in the air
he plays with the serpents and daydreams death is a master from
Germany

your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith
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