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Unread 10-25-2019, 12:59 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default Rilke, Early Apollo

Early Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke

As sometimes, through the boughs not yet in bud,
a morning glances that conclusively
is fully spring, so nothing in his head
could block the splendor of all poetry

from striking us an almost fatal blow,
for there is still no shadow in his gaze,
his temples still too cool for laurel now,
and only later from his arching brows

the rose garden will rise with its tall stems
from which the petals, cast off one by one,
will drift down on the trembling of the mouth

that’s silent yet, unused and gleaming, with
a smile that’s simply drinking something in,
as if his singing were infusing him.

Revisions:
L9 was "the rose garden will rise with its tall stems" then "the roses will arise with their tall stems" then reverted to original wording
L12 was "that’s silent yet, unused and gleaming, with" then "that’s mute still, never used and gleaming, with" then reverted to original wording


Früher Apollo

Wie manches Mal durch das noch unbelaubte
Gezweig ein Morgen durchsieht, der schon ganz
im Frühling ist: so ist in seinem Haupte
nichts was verhindern könnte, daß der Glanz

aller Gedichte uns fast tödlich träfe;
denn noch kein Schatten ist in seinem Schaun,
zu kühl für Lorbeer sind noch seine Schläfe,
und später erst wird aus den Augenbraun

hochstämmig sich der Rosengarten heben,
aus welchem Blätter, einzeln, ausgelöst
hintreiben werden auf des Mundes Beben,

der jetzt noch still ist, niegebraucht und blinkend
und nur mit seinem Lächeln etwas trinkend,
als würde ihm sein Singen eingeflößt.


Literal translation:
Early Apollo

As sometimes through the still leafless
branches a morning peers that is already
wholly spring, so in his head is
nothing that could prevent the glory

of all poetry from striking us almost fatally,
because no shadow is yet in his gaze,
his temples are still too cool for laurels,
and only later from the eyebrows will rise up

a long-stemmed rose garden,
from which petals, individually released,
will drift toward the quivering of the mouth

which now is still silent, never used and gleaming,
and only drinking something in with his smile,
as if his singing were being instilled into him.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 10-25-2019 at 07:59 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 10-25-2019, 03:51 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Susan,

Ah, you've translated this lovely poem! Your octave is IMO exquisite, a splendid and compelling rendering. I stumbled twice really in the tercets: first at the scansion of rose garden, which would be nice to avoid, and second at unused for the rather stronger niegebraucht. I wonder if you can't do more?
The rhyme scheme in the sestet works but I am not wedded to it as you have it.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 10-25-2019, 05:55 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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John, I have experimented with making changes to the lines you disliked, though I have reservations about doing so. "Rose garden" is closer to the original in meaning, even if it does have an inverted foot, and the metaphor of having a garden rising from your brows has a beauty to it that is lost when it becomes clearer that a rose wreath is being described. I think there is no real difference in meaning between "unused" and "never used" in the context of L12, and I think "mute" has more negative overtones than "silent." I will see what others think.

Susan
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Unread 10-25-2019, 07:39 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Susan,

I think you're right. Although you've worked the English in your draft revisions, I don't think the possible improvement in sense outweighs the possible loss to the poetry. So I'm inclined now to suggest you go with what you had, sorry.
Anyway, worth taking a look at IMO.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 10-25-2019, 08:02 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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John, I have reverted to the original wording in L9 and L12. One has to weigh so many aspects of every word in translating poetry that a gain in one area is often a loss in another.

Susan
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