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  #1  
Unread 10-18-2019, 01:01 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default Rilke, The Lute

The Lute
by Rainer Maria Rilke

I am the lute. If you’d delineate
my body with its lovely arching stripes,
speak of me as you’d speak about a ripe
full-bodied fig. Exaggerate

the darkness that you see in me. My dark
was Tullia’s darkness. In her privates, there
was not so much, and her resplendent hair
was like a brightly lit salon. She took

at times some sound from my exterior
into her face and sang to me.
Then I grew taut against her pliancy,
and my interior was at last in her.


Note: Tullia d’Aragona (1510-1556) was a Roman courtesan who was renowned for her intelligence, her poetry, and her philosophical writing.

Revisions:
L8 "lit salon" was "lighted hall"


Die Laute

Ich bin die Laute. Willst du meinen Leib
beschreiben, seine schön gewölbten Streifen:
sprich so, als sprächest du von einer reifen
gewölbten Feige. Übertreib

das Dunkel, das du in mir siehst. Es war
Tullias Dunkelheit. In ihrer Scham
war nicht so viel, und ihr erhelltes Haar
war wie ein heller Saal. Zuweilen nahm

sie etwas Klang von meiner Oberfläche
in ihr Gesicht und sang zu mir.
Dann spannte ich mich gegen ihre Schwäche,
und endlich war mein Inneres in ihr.


Literal translation:
The Lute

I am the lute. If you want to describe
my body, its lovely arching stripes,
speak as you would speak of a ripe
bulging fig. Exaggerate

the darkness that you see in me. It was
Tullia’s darkness. In her private parts
was not so much, and her bright hair
was like a lit-up hall. Sometimes she took

some sound from my surface
into her face and sang with me.
Then I tensed myself against her yielding,
and finally my inside was in her.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 10-18-2019 at 04:04 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 10-18-2019, 02:34 AM
Mary McLean Mary McLean is offline
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Default

I like this one. A couple nits: isn't L10 missing a beat? And lighted seems an awkward version of lit. Maybe something like a brightly lit great Hall?
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  #3  
Unread 10-18-2019, 02:45 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Location: TX
Posts: 4,952
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Hi Susan,

I continue to be delighted and impressed by your gift for turning up Rilke poems I'm unfamiliar with or have forgotten. I've read quite a bit of Rilke over the years, though to be honest a fair bit of that is rereading the Duineser Elegien and sometimes the Neue Gedichte or the Sonnette an Orpheus.
Anyway, I enjoy that, and here's another fine poem you seem to have pretty much exactly captured in your English, meter and all. My 2c.

Cheers,
John
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  #4  
Unread 10-18-2019, 04:03 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Mary, both L4 and L10 have just four beats in the German, so I have tried to follow that pattern. I have taken your suggestion for changing "lighted" to "lit." I have changed "great hall" to "salon" because I think these concerts would have been private ones, for no more than a few noblemen (possibly even just one).

John, this poem is from the Neue Gedichte. I have been working my way randomly through the ones that appeal to me, trying to see how many of them I can do. A few of those poems are frequently translated, but many are not.

Susan
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