Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-23-2018, 08:51 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,588
Default Rilke, A Woman's Fate

A Woman’s Fate
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Just as the king out on a hunt takes up
a glass to drink from, any glass whatever—
and afterward the owner of the cup
puts it away and keeps it like no other,

so maybe Fate, who’s also thirsty, raised
a woman to its mouth at times and drank,
and then a petty life, afraid she’d break,
set her apart from ever being used

inside the fussy glass display case where
its most expensive treasures are consigned
(or those, at least, considered precious then).

Like something loaned, she stood there, alien,
becoming merely old, becoming blind,
and was not precious and was never rare.


Ein Frauen-Schicksal

So wie der König auf der Jagd ein Glas
ergreift, daraus zu trinken, irgendeines, -
und wie hernach der welcher es besaß
es fortstellt und verwahrt als wär es keines:

so hob vielleicht das Schicksal, durstig auch,
bisweilen Eine an den Mund und trank,
die dann ein kleines Leben, viel zu bang
sie zu zerbrechen, abseits vom Gebrauch

hinstellte in die ängstliche Vitrine,
in welcher seine Kostbarkeiten sind
(oder die Dinge, die für kostbar gelten).

Da stand sie fremd wie eine Fortgeliehne
und wurde einfach alt und wurde blind
und war nicht kostbar und war niemals selten.


Literal translation:
A Woman’s Fate

Just as the king out on a hunt picks up
a glass to drink from, any one at all—
and after that, the one who owned it
puts it away and guards it like no other:

so perhaps Fate, who also is thirsty, at times
raised a woman to its mouth and drank,
whom then a small life, too afraid of
breaking her, put her away from use

inside the finicky glass display cabinet
in which its most precious things are kept
(or those things that are taken for precious).

There she stood, strange, like something loaned
and became merely old and became blind
and was not precious and was never rare.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 09-23-2018, 12:50 PM
Clive Watkins Clive Watkins is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Yorkshire, UK
Posts: 2,320
Default

A brief passing comment, Susan, to say this reads really smoothly, not like a translation at all. Well done!

Though I enjoy a great many poems from the two collections of New Poems, not all of them - in the original - are, I feel, successful, which makes translating them problematic.

Good luck with your project!

Clive
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 09-23-2018, 02:05 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,588
Default

Clive, I am glad to hear that the translation reads smoothly to you. I do not really have a project on Rilke. I had barely known his work until recently, and as I have been trying to familiarize myself with it, I have started trying to translate those works that catch my interest for various reasons. In the case of his poems about women, I am curious about his attitudes, but don't always find them congenial.

I currently have no plans to translate a particular number of poems or any whole volume, but will probably keep translating those poems that grab my interest either because of their content or because I think I sense what it is that makes the original work as a poem. My translation skills are best suited to dealing with issues of rhyme and meter, so I probably will not tackle poems written in free verse. I also find that I prefer to deal with short poems rather than long ones, but Rilke has many short poems.

It is good to hear from you. Your comments on Rilke have been helpful to me.

Susan
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 09-25-2018, 07:14 AM
Clive Watkins Clive Watkins is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Yorkshire, UK
Posts: 2,320
Default

I've been picking away at these short poems for many years. This is not one I have tried, Susan, though some of the others you have posted I have worked on. For me, this too has not been any kind of concerted project, more like practising my scales - as I once used to do now rather long ago.

All the best!

Clive
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 09-29-2018, 11:22 AM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 5,453
Default

Sorry I've been away and have missed your last several Rilke translations, Susan. I'm glad to see this one.

To me it seems important for the woman to be presented in a passive, object-like way in all this--even if she herself is the one keeping herself reserved and apart, perhaps lost in the memory of her glory days. (Or, more likely, is withdrawn because she's dealing with some sort of trauma of which the narrator is ignorant.)

If "life" were personified in the English with a capital letter, like "Fate," that would be more consistent with my reading. (Which--standard caveat--may not be correct.)
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 09-29-2018, 11:56 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,588
Default

Julie, thanks for your responses. I think both Fate and life are being personified in this poem, but the phrase about the latter is "a little/petty life." I hesitate to capitalize life if it is "a life." It sounds more like a description than a name, even though it behaves in a personified way.

Susan
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 09-30-2018, 01:56 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,588
Default

John, I think you wanted to post your poem in Drills and Amusements, not here.

Susan
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 7,927
Total Threads: 19,489
Total Posts: 251,809
There are 224 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online