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  #1  
Unread 04-10-2019, 07:59 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Default Rilke, The Risen

The Risen
by Rainer Maria Rilke

He never had the power to deny her,
right to the end, or tell her to forswear
her sense of being famous for her love;
she sank down at the cross in the attire
of a sorrow trimmed with massive gemstones of
her adoration on it everywhere.

But when she came to the sepulcher with salve
to anoint him, tears upon her face, distraught,
he had arisen just on her behalf
that he might say more blissfully “Do not.”

Finally, in her cave, she understood
how he, strengthened by death, bade her forsake
the oils' alleviation and forbade
the prospect of a touch, so as to make

of her the lover who no longer bends
in ardency toward the beloved one,
since she, transported by vast storms, has gone
beyond the range to which his voice extends.

Revisions:
First stanza was:
He never had the power to deny her,
right to the end, or ever tell her no
for feeling she was famous for her love:
she sank down at the cross in the attire
of a grief encrusted with the jewels of
her adoration’s most enormous woe.
S1L6 was "her love’s most massive, ostentatious woe."
S3L3 "oils'" replaces "oil's"
S4L1 "of" replaces "from"
S4L2 "ardency" replaces "fervency" and "in" replaces "her"


Der Auferstandene

Er vermochte niemals bis zuletzt
ihr zu weigern oder abzuneinen,
dass sie ihrer Liebe sich berühme;
und sie sank ans Kreuz in dem Kostüme
eines Schmerzes, welches ganz besetzt
war mit ihrer Liebe größten Steinen.

Aber da sie dann, um ihn zu salben,
an das Grab kam, Tränen im Gesicht,
war er auferstanden ihrethalben,
dass er seliger ihr sage: Nicht -

Sie begriff es erst in ihrer Höhle,
wie er ihr, gestärkt durch seinen Tod,
endlich das Erleichternde der Öle
und des Rührens Vorgefühl verbot,

um aus ihr die Liebende zu formen
die sich nicht mehr zum Geliebten neigt,
weil sie, hingerissen von enormen
Stürmen, seine Stimme übersteigt.


Literal translation:
The Risen

He was never able, up to the last,
to deny her or tell her no,
that she considered herself to be famous for her love;
and she sank at the cross in the costume
of a grief that was wholly studded
with her love’s largest stones.

But then, when she, to anoint him,
came to the tomb, tears in her face,
he was arisen for her sake
that he might say to her more blissfully, “Don’t.”

She understood it at last in her cave,
how he, made stronger by his death,
forbade her finally the alleviation of the oils
and the anticipation of touching,

so as to make of her the lover
who no longer inclines herself toward the beloved,
since she, transported by enormous
storms, transcends his voice.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 04-16-2019 at 07:56 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 04-10-2019, 08:12 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Hi Susan,

The usual fine work. I have three remarks for you on details. First, in

she sank down at the cross in the attire
of a grief encrusted with the jewels of
her love’s most massive, ostentatious woe

for
und sie sank ans Kreuz in dem Kostüme
eines Schmerzes, welches ganz besetzt
war mit ihrer Liebe größten Steinen.

I think you've been a bit free with the German - both in "massive, ostentatious" and in assuming the stones are jewels; I find them a bit ambiguous - they are big stones - and that might be nice to keep.

Second, in the line "the oil’s alleviation," I'd put the apostrophe after the s, since der Oele is plural.

Third, I'm not sure the German warrants "her fervency."

No other nits - a pleasure to read, as always.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 04-10-2019, 10:34 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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John, I have made some revisions in line with your suggestions. Especially in Flemish and Northern European art, Mary Magdalene is often depicted in extremely rich attire, covered in jewels. I think that is the iconography that Rilke is referencing here, though the stones of her love are metaphoric. I can't imagine any other kind of stone that she would be wearing. She is treating her love as something that sets her apart and makes her better than the others, and Jesus finally denies her that vanity.

As for the wording, English is much more economical than German is, so I have been forced to fill out the line by using more than one meaning of the same word or by supplying a word that states a meaning that is only implied by the original. I have experimented with alternate words. You can tell me if you think they are warranted by the German.

Susan
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Unread 04-10-2019, 03:16 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Hi Susan,

Yes, I like your revisions. Your guess about Magdalene is likely right, and filling out the lines may be unavoidable. I'll just say that as I read this, Steine technically does not mean jewels, and her woe, not her costume, is laden with them. A woe laden with stones may be laden down with their weight rather than their dollar value, and that is the ambiguity I was pointing you toward. Some things vanish on translation, but it's nice for such losses to be conscious and deliberate, hence my remark.

Cheers,
John
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  #5  
Unread 04-10-2019, 06:50 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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John, I agree with you that "steine" means "stones," but not necessarily gems, so I have amended the literal translation accordingly. However, in the context of the poem, I think there are several reasons that those stones should be read as gemstones.
1. Mary Magdalene is in the "costume" of a grief, and that costume is studded with the stones of her love. To me, "costume" suggests something put on for show, and her love is adorning that costume. Her love is not weighing down the grief, though one might assume that the grief could weigh down the love.
2. Rilke is often influenced by works of art, so the iconography of Mary Magdalene has to be relevant here. She is not shown wearing heavy stones, though she is sometimes shown in jewels. After the crucifixion, when she becomes a recluse in a cave, she is often portrayed as being naked. So the elaborate garment of before is being contrasted with the implied going bare afterwards.
3. I would try to suggest ambiguity in the "stones" if I thought the ambiguity was relevant, but the reading of the large stones as heavy weights just does not seem to fit in with the rest of the poem. The message of the poem is about not mistaking the outer for the inner, the body for the soul. I think it muddies that message if I suggest other possible meanings of "stones" in this context.

Susan
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Unread 04-10-2019, 11:55 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Hi Susan,

I appreciate the thought you're putting into this question, and the hypotheses you're making. In conclusion at my end, I'll just say that "encrusted with jewels" seems a bit precious as a rendering of "besetzt mit Steinen." The German is qualitatively simpler, in both noun and adjective, and I stand by the ambiguity of the word stones. Stones weigh a person down; jewels do not. I think Rilke welcomes the reader thinking a moment of Magdalene weighed down by valueless grief. Anyway, your translation, obviously. My 2c.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 04-11-2019, 07:54 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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John, "encrusted" was meant to convey "ganz besetzt," so "completely studded." The image, I take it, is of a garment covered with jewels, not just with a few jewels here and there. I will keep looking around for alternatives, but I did not pick "encrusted" lightly.

Susan
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Unread 04-11-2019, 08:20 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Well, technically it's the woe, not the costume, that is stone-studded. But I'm not pushing really against your primary reading, just looking to underline some ambiguity in the simpler German. Still, at the end of the day you have to trust your gut.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 04-13-2019, 11:03 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Scroll down to the second of the two paintings here titled "Mary Magdalene Holding the Unguent Jar," and click on the thumbnail image to enlarge it.

I doubt that Rilke ever saw this painting. However, it's interesting that seven very large jewels are visible in her necklace, in addition to other jewels adorning her dress.

These seven large jewels or stones might represent the seven demons which Jesus had cast out of the woman who publicly anointed him with perfume, washing his feet with tears and drying them with her hair. This jar-bearing woman who anointed the Messiah or Christ (a title which means "the anointed one") is mentioned in all four Gospel accounts. Mary Magdalene of course later brought myrrh to Jesus's tomb, so she got conflated with that woman.

St. Gregory the Great might have been the first to do so. He also said that the seven demons cast out of the woman/Mary might have actually been the seven deadly sins, which include Lust and Pride. Gregory preached a homily on her former Pride and Lust, in which he claimed that she had previously used those perfumed oils to anoint her own body for illicit acts.

I think that that's the source of the tradition of Mary Magdalene's vanity, which Rilke mentions in the poem.

I'm having trouble understanding Rilke's point in the final quatrain. The whole poem is about love, but is Rilke saying that Jesus wanted to make her a lover of humanity in general, rather than a lover of only one beloved? I'm also not sure what he's getting at with "seine Stimme übersteigt." Does he mean she no longer listens to him, not only because he's not speaking to her anymore, but because she has mastered what he taught and no longer needs him to tell her what to do?

I get the impression that the title really means that Mary Magdalene, rather than Jesus, is the risen one, because she is no longer sinking (as at the cross), or reaching (as at the tomb), or otherwise inclining herself toward her lover (as in the final stanza). There's probably some hint of female proneness versus male erectness in that imagery, too. Anyway, I think that that positional contrast is important, so "bends / her ardency" is probably less effective than some variant of "bends / herself" would be.

Why change the crib's "of" to "from" in S4L1?

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 04-14-2019 at 01:09 AM.
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Unread 04-14-2019, 08:12 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Julie, thanks for tracking down a relevant painting. I have been assuming all along that Rilke's title is ambiguous and refers to both Jesus and Mary Magdalene. I think in the last stanza, Rilke is implying that Mary now directs her love toward God, not toward the physical Jesus. Supposedly, toward the end of her life, Mary Magdalene was carried up to heaven by angels (for visits, I guess) before she even died. So the element of ecstatic vision is suggested for her. I don't know why I had "from" instead of "of" in S4L1, so I have changed that. I am not sure yet of how I could fit "herself" into S4L2, because I need more syllables for the line. But I will think about it.

Susan
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