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  #1  
Unread 06-07-2019, 08:32 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default Rilke, Buddha

Buddha
by Rainer Maria Rilke

The awestruck foreign wayfarer can sense
far off the way it trickles goldenly
from him, as if whole realms of penitence
had heaped up all their hidden secrecy.

But coming nearer, he becomes confused
before these eyebrows’ majesty: what’s here
is not the drinking vessels they had used
and dangling eardrops from their women’s ears.

Is there, then, anybody who could tell
what things were fused together to put up
this image on this lotus-blossom cup,

more hushed and calmly yellower than one
that’s golden, and in touch with vastness on
all sides of it, as with itself, as well.

Revisions:
S1L1 was "The awestruck pilgrim from abroad can sense"
S1L4 "hidden" was "stealthy"


Buddha

Schon von ferne fühlt der fremde scheue
Pilger, wie es golden von ihm träuft;
so als hätten Reiche voller Reue
ihre Heimlichkeiten aufgehäuft.

Aber näher kommend wird er irre
vor der Hoheit dieser Augenbraun:
denn das sind nicht ihre Trinkgeschirre
und die Ohrgehänge ihrer Fraun.

Wüsste einer denn zu sagen, welche
Dinge eingeschmolzen wurden, um
dieses Bild auf diesem Blumenkelche

aufzurichten: stummer, ruhiggelber
als ein goldenes und rundherum
auch den Raum berührend wie sich selber.


Literal translation:
Buddha

Already, from far off, the timid foreign
pilgrim feels how it trickles from him, golden,
as if kingdoms of penitence had
heaped up their secrecies.

But coming nearer he becomes confused
before the majesty of these eyebrows:
for this is not their drinking vessels
and the dangling earrings of their women.

Is there someone, then, who could say which
things were melted into one
to erect this image on this flower-cup,

more silent, more calmly yellow
than a golden one, and, all around,
also, touching space as it touches itself.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 06-07-2019 at 01:21 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 06-07-2019, 10:38 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Susan,

Well, kind of a weird poem. Rilke seems to me to be flogging a dead horse a bit in this one, working himself up to poetry because that's what's expected of him. In any case, I think you've pretty much got the German, as per usual. So kudos.
I might change from abroad, which I find a bit wooden, to, say, foreign, and then sort out syllables. And I'd love to see goldenly vanish, though I have no suggestions on how to achieve that. I have a personal antipathy to Englishings of German adverbial adjectives with -ly at the end, the Trakl I'm reading is full of them: bluely and so forth. I don't believe it's English, nor is it Trakl's tone.

Cheers,
John
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  #3  
Unread 06-07-2019, 01:20 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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John, I have changed "from abroad" to "foreign," though I also had to change "pilgrim" as well. I do not know whether in this context "Pilger" should be construed as "pilgrim" or just "wanderer," but since religion is one of the subjects, I hesitated. "Goldenly" is a word in English, and I need it for the rhyme, though I take your point that "golden" might sound more common.

I think this poem results from Rilke's fascination with other religions (he has a couple of others about Buddha, as well as one about Mohammed). The ones about Buddha may also have been inspired by the Buddha statue Rilke saw in Rodin's garden.

Susan
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  #4  
Unread 06-07-2019, 02:26 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Susan,

Yup, I prefer "foreign wayfarer." Good f's as well.

Cheers,
John
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