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  #1  
Unread 05-15-2019, 08:25 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default Rilke, The Mountain

The Mountain
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Thirty-six and then a hundred times
the printmaker inscribed that mountain, torn
away and always driven back again
(thirty-six and then a hundred times)

to the inscrutable volcano, blissful,
full of seductiveness and reticence—
while it, in the apparel of its profile,
did not hold back its own magnificence:

bursting forth a thousand times each day,
allowing each uniquely different night
to fall away, as if all were too tight,
consuming every image straightaway,
improving on itself from shape to shape,
detached, remote, and taking no position—
at once turned knowing, like an apparition,
and rising into view through every gap.

Revisions:
S1L2 "printmaker" was "artist had"
S2L1-2 was "to the volcano, inconceivable, / blissful, enticing, full of reticence—"; then S2L2 was "tantalizing, full of reticence—"
S3L1 "bursting forth" was "diving out"
S3L6 was "detached, far off, without predisposition—"
S3L8 was "and rising at the back of every gap."


Der Berg

Sechsunddreißig Mal und hundert Mal
hat der Maler jenen Berg geschrieben,
weggerissen, wieder hingetrieben
(sechsunddreißig Mal und hundert Mal)

zu dem unbegreiflichen Vulkane,
selig, voll Versuchung, ohne Rat, -
während der mit Umriss Angetane
seiner Herrlichkeit nicht Einhalt tat:

tausendmal aus allen Tagen tauchend,
Nächte ohne gleichen von sich ab
fallen lassend, alle wie zu knapp;
jedes Bild im Augenblick verbrauchend,
von Gestalt gesteigert zu Gestalt,
teilnahmslos und weit und ohne Meinung -,
um auf einmal wissend, wie Erscheinung,
sich zu heben hinter jedem Spalt.


Literal translation:
The Mountain

Thirty-six times and a hundred times
the artist inscribed that mountain,
torn away, driven back again
(thirty-six times and a hundred times)

to the unknowable volcano,
beatific, full of temptation, without advice—
while it, clothed in its outline,
kept back nothing of its magnificence:

emerging a thousand times every day,
allowing nights without equal to fall
away from it, as if all were too tight;
consuming each image in the blink of an eye,
from shape to shape improving,
indifferent and distant and without opinion—
only to become knowing suddenly, like an apparition,
raising itself up behind every gap.


Note: This poem is about the Japanese printmaker Hokusai, who produced Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, followed by One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 05-17-2019 at 10:07 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 05-16-2019, 03:40 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Hey, Susan!

I hope there's something of value in my jumble of thoughts. Thanks for sharing this lovely poem, Susan.

I think it's important to keep the contrast between the artist's attempts to master the "unknowable" volcano, and the volcano suddenly becoming self-aware or "knowing," and actively inserting itself into pictures. More on this later--but I'd like to see "inconceivable" changed to something with "know" in it. The "inconceivable/profile" rhyme is too weak to bear much weight, anyway. An alternative (which is looser than you'll be comfortable with, but maybe it will give you some other ideas):

Quote:
to the volcano, inconceivable, --> to the volcano, never fully known,

while it, in the apparel of its profile --> while it, clad in its famous form alone,
I think "tauchend" can't mean "diving" in this context. It seems more likely to be along the lines of the fifth meaning here: "emerge, appear, come up," or even "bob up." Maybe "popping up a thousand times a day"?

To me, "without predisposition" doesn't seem like enough of a contrast between the volcano's former passivity and its intentional haunting of Hokusai's works at the end of the poem. Perhaps "without its own volition"?

"Rising at the back every gap" isn't colloquial in English. I'd suggest something like "popping into view in every gap." (Except that I already suggested "popping up" earlier. Oh, well, you'll come up with something better.)

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 05-16-2019 at 03:45 PM.
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Unread 05-16-2019, 07:02 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Thanks for the suggestions, Julie. I have made a number of changes in response to them. I think you are right about the need to emphasize the contrast between Hokusai's attempts to know the volcano and its own "knowing" at the end, but I wanted to use "inscrutable" instead of "unknowable" because the word sounds as though the mountain is being deliberately mysterious. I decided that "blissful/profile" was a better slant rhyme to use. I had a lot of trouble finding a substitute for "diving out" that would not sound like a cliché. The mountain is lacking opinion, not volition, so I decided to try "taking no position" to suggest its seeming neutral. I rewrote the last line because I think you were right that the original did not sound natural.

Susan
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Unread 05-17-2019, 04:52 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Susan,

Kind of a weird Rilke poem. I think you've got it - as usual - though I do have a couple of small quibbles. I'm not convinced by your rendition of "selig, voll Versuchung, ohne Rat," particularly by "full of reticence" which I don't see in the German. Also, "hat geschrieben" isn't the pluperfect, and I'm not a big fan of "inscribed" when the German is so simple. I don't think you need these little quibbles in your fine work.


Cheers,
John
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Unread 05-17-2019, 09:57 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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John, I used "inscribed" because it is appropriate to printmaking. If you think the verb should be a simple past tense, I can change the more general "artist" to "printmaker," to convey more accurately what medium Hokusai was using. In S2L2, I had moved the "full of" from before "temptation" to before "reticence" in order to help the rhyme by making what would otherwise be an adjective a noun. I have now reworded that to try to make the "full of" apply to both ideas. I cannot come up with a word that means "without advice" that can also work with my other rhymes.

Susan
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  #6  
Unread 05-17-2019, 10:40 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Susan,

I like your revisions. They pretty much resolve my concerns.
So, my 2c.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 05-17-2019, 02:23 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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John, thanks for letting me know that the changes work for you.

Susan
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