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  #1  
Unread 10-18-2019, 05:47 AM
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Spindleshanks Spindleshanks is offline
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Default Heine: In stiller, wehmuth weicher Abendstunde

In stiller, wehmuth weicher Abendstunde

Revision 2

At silent, melancholy eventide,
there come to me lost songs of long ago,
and down my cheek the tears begin to flow,
and in my heart old wounds are opened wide.
And then I see my love again, portrayed
inside a magic looking glass as though
before her desk,
her blouse a crimson glow,
the atmosphere serene and sanctified.

But suddenly she rises from her seat
and severs from her hair the fairest lock
to give me—joy succeeds the fearful shock!
Mephisto, though, has ruined my delight.
He spun a solid tether from that hair,
and drags me round with it year after year.




*Revision

At tranquil, melancholy eventide,
there come to me lost songs of long ago,
and down my cheek the tears begin to flow,
and in my heart old wounds are opened wide.
For then I see my love as though inside
a magic mirror, see the image show
her at her bench, her blouse a crimson glow,
the ambience serene and sanctified.

But suddenly she rises from her seat
and severs from her hair a precious lock
to give me—joy dispels the fearful shock!
Mephisto, though, has ruined my delight.
He spun a solid tether from that hair,
and drags me round with it from year to year.



Replaced

At tranquil, melancholy eventide,
there come to me lost songs of long ago,
and down my cheek the tears begin to flow,
and in my heart old wounds are opened wide.
For then I see my love as though within
a magic mirror, see the image show
her at her bench, her blouse a crimson glow,
the ambience so holy and serene.

But suddenly she rises from her seat
and severs from her hair the fairest lock
to give to me—such joy amid such shock!
The Devil, though, has ruined my delight.
He spun a solid tether from that hair,
and drags me round with it from year to year.


Original:

In stiller, wehmutweicher Abendstunde
Umklingen mich die längst verschollnen Lieder,
Und Tränen fließen von der Wange nieder,
Und Blut entquillt der alten Herzenswunde.

Und wie in eines Zauberspiegels Grunde
Seh ich das Bildnis meiner Liebsten wieder;
Sie sitzt am Arbeitstisch, im roten Mieder,
Und Stille herrscht in ihrer selgen Runde.

Doch plötzlich springt sie auf vom Stuhl und schneidet
Von ihrem Haupt die schönste aller Locken,
Und gibt sie mir - vor Freud' bin ich erschrocken!
Mephisto hat die Freude mir verleidet.
Er spann ein festes Seil von jenen Haaren,
Und schleift mich dran herum seit vielen Jahren.



Crib:

In quiet, soft melancholy evening hours,
To me come sounds like long lost songs,
And tears roll down the cheek,
And blood springs from the old heart wound.
And as in a magic mirror why
I see again the portrait of my beloved;
She sits at the desk in a red bodice,
And stillness reigns in her holy round.
But suddenly she jumps up from the chair and cuts
From her head the fairest of all locks,
And she gives me, - before joy I am in fear!
Mephisto has ruined my pleasure
He wove a solid cord of those hairs,
And drags me round and about for many years.


oOOo

*Revision restores Heine's Petrarchan scheme and reflects more accurate original uncovered by further research. Danke! Allen and John.
Revision 2: Alterations in red address some concerns raised by Andrew and Susan and others.

Last edited by Spindleshanks; 10-22-2019 at 11:10 AM. Reason: Post restored after temporary removal due to breach of posting protocol
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  #2  
Unread 10-20-2019, 12:19 PM
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Spindleshanks Spindleshanks is offline
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Apologies for the confusion caused by my early error in posting this too soon, requiring a repost.

Peter
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  #3  
Unread 10-20-2019, 01:07 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is online now
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Wow, I didn’t know this Heine poem. It’s a serious item. Maybe I can find time to crit. Not yet. Maybe Mephisto is better. Best.
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  #4  
Unread 10-20-2019, 06:35 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is online now
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Back again. I love reading this in German. This is real poetry there. Dichtung. Enrichment. Whoosh. I even relish the old spelling that takes me to a vanished world of sound and existence.

I’m also pleased with what you have done with rhyme and meter. Two nits: “fair” is not the best choice for “schönste”. It tosses the hair in the direction of blondeness, which limits the audience’s reactions. Also, “Devil”. Auf English, “Devil” has a different weight than “Mephisto”. More Satanic. What Heine means is that he is ensnared, enleashed and dragged willy-nilly by that magical yet unrelenting memento of her physical being. He hates it but he is almost unable to not respond to it. Odi et amo. Mephisto embodies the wonderful-terrible potency of that remnant of her. Not quite Satan. It’s good and bad at the same time. There’s an inescapable silver lining too.

I don’t know how you could reword that part, but I’d give it a dozen thoughts. I truly like your translation, and melt down with the original.

Thanks!

Last edited by Allen Tice; 10-20-2019 at 06:48 PM. Reason: -
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  #5  
Unread 10-21-2019, 04:02 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Peter,

Nice poem. Just a quick note to say that independently of the rather charming C19th spellings (Thraenen), you'll find you have some errors in your German here. At least one interferes with scansion. You might like to take a look at that.

Cheers,
John
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  #6  
Unread 10-21-2019, 08:14 AM
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Spindleshanks Spindleshanks is offline
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Allen, thank you for the encouraging tick of general approval, and for the suggestions, which I've edited into the revision.

John, thanks for the alert on the German. It sent me deeper into the archives where I was able to find evidence supporting your advice. Among other variations, Freude became Freud and attended to the scansion glitch you had identified. I have no Deutsch and no academic background and rely heavily on online translation resources along with the crit offered on this forum as it's made available, so your advice and suggestions along with that offered by others is invaluable as I travel this intriguing journey.

Best,
Peter
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  #7  
Unread 10-21-2019, 08:21 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Peter,

Yes! I see you've also got umklingen in the plural now, which also helps with scansion. Thanks for fixing this, and glad to be of help. I'll be back soonish for a closer look at your rendering here - I did like your first Heine posting!

Cheers,
John
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  #8  
Unread 10-21-2019, 08:48 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Peter,

I'm with Allen here in thinking "Mephisto" is an easy plug-in for "The Devil." It helps recall Faust, too, which Heine could not avoid in using that name. I'm glad you went with it.

A couple of phrasings seem a little awkward to my ear: "eventide" is a bit precious and literary to modern ears, at necessitates you to say "at" rather than "in" to start the poem.

Why "hair" instead of head? Also, "precious" is better than "fairest," but loses the superlative. What about something like:

and from her head cuts the most beautiful lock

?

"see the image show / her at her bench" feels awkward and too far from the original, which is simply: she sits at a workbench.

Similarly, the last line "the ambience serene and sanctified" feels very unlike Heine. It's so hard to capture his simplicity in English translation...

Lastly, "from year to year" doesn't really mean "many years/veilen Jahren" and generally more of a comparative sense.

There's a lot to like here, and thanks for introducing me to this Heine poem!
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  #9  
Unread 10-21-2019, 08:54 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Peter, I question "tranquil" in L1. It has the wrong emotional overtones for what follows. Have you thought what the woman is doing at that "bench"? I think she is sewing, which would explain the scissors, and it is not so much a workbench as a sewing table. In L13 I think "He's spun" would fit better with the other tenses before and after it.

Susan
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  #10  
Unread 10-21-2019, 09:53 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Susan,

I too thought tranquil might not be the best word.

And you're quite right on the "workbench." Duden says "Tisch, an dem gearbeitet wird" but the overtones in English suggestion something that would have heavy tools hanging above it and a vice, perhaps, drilled into it, and that's not what's happening here.
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