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Unread 11-08-2019, 04:32 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Default Rilke, Lunatics in the Garden

Lunatics in the Garden (revision)
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Dijon

The former Charterhouse still closes round
its courtyard, like a thing that’s healing. Those
who live there now experience a pause,
as well, and take no part in life beyond.

Whatever still could happen has departed.
Now they gladly walk on well-known paths
and separate and come together as
if circling: willing, simple, single-hearted.

Indeed, some tend spring beds of flowers there—
humbly, weakly, on their knees—
and yet when nobody is there who sees,
they make a secretive, bizarre

gesture toward the tender early grass,
a tentative caress, almost afraid,
because it’s friendly, and the roses’ red
may threaten them with its excessiveness,

and may perhaps again transcend too much
the things their hearts can understand and know.
But this can still remain their secret: how
benign the grass is and how soft its touch.

Revisions:
S2L1 "still could" was "could still"


Lunatics in the Garden
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Dijon

The former Charterhouse still closes round
the yard, as if a wound were healing. Even
the ones who now inhabit it are given
time off and take no part in life beyond.

Whatever might have happened has departed.
Now they gladly walk on well-known paths
and separate and come together as
if circling: willing, simple, single-hearted.

It’s true that some tend beds there of spring flowers—
humbly, weakly, on their knees—
and yet they make, when no one’s there who sees,
a surreptitious, crazy gesture

toward the delicate and early grass,
a tentative caress, almost afraid,
because it’s friendly, and the roses’ red
may be excessive, turning ominous,

and may perhaps again surpass too much
the things their hearts can understand and know.
But this can still remain their secret: how
benign the grass is and how soft its touch.


Irre im Garten

Dijon

Noch schließt die aufgegebene Kartause
sich um den Hof, als würde etwas heil.
Auch die sie jetzt bewohnen, haben Pause
und nehmen nicht am Leben draußen teil.

Was irgend kommen konnte, das verlief.
Nun gehn sie gerne mit bekannten Wegen,
und trennen sich und kommen sich entgegen,
als ob sie kreisten, willig, primitiv.

Zwar manche pflegen dort die Frühlingsbeete,
demütig, dürftig, hingekniet;
aber sie haben, wenn es keiner sieht,
eine verheimlichte, verdrehte

Gebärde für das zarte frühe Gras,
ein prüfendes, verschüchtertes Liebkosen:
denn das ist freundlich, und das Rot der Rosen
wird vielleicht drohend sein und Übermaß

und wird vielleicht schon wieder übersteigen,
was ihre Seele wiederkennt und weiß.
Dies aber lässt sich noch verschweigen:
wie gut das Gras ist und wie leis.


Literal translation:
Lunatics in the Garden

Dijon

The shut-down Charterhouse still closes itself
around the courtyard, as if something were healing.
Even those who now inhabit it have a break
and do not take part in life outside.

Whatever could happen, that has left.
Now they gladly walk the well-known paths,
and separate and come together
as if they circled, willing, primitive.

It’s true, some tend the spring flowerbeds there,
humble, weak, on their knees;
but they make, when no one sees it,
a surreptitious, crazy

gesture toward the tender, early grass,
a tentative, fearful caress:
for that is friendly, and the red of the roses
may perhaps become menacing and too intense

and may perhaps once again exceed
what their hearts can recognize and know.
But this can still be concealed:
how good the grass is and how soft.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 11-11-2019 at 02:57 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 11-08-2019, 10:23 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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You may be wondering why I have posted a revision before receiving any comments. The first version is one I wrote about a year ago, which was published in Blue Unicorn. I decided to see what I would change now, so the revision is a recent reworking of the original.

Susan
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  #3  
Unread 11-09-2019, 10:31 PM
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Spindleshanks Spindleshanks is offline
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I like what you have achieved with this, Susan. Your flowers/gesture pairing in the initial S3 was a stretch, nicely fixed in the revision. I do find the S2 enjambement of "as if" an awkward distraction in the revision, but nothing else to report.

Best with this.
Peter
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Unread 11-11-2019, 03:02 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Peter, thanks for the comments. Though I will think about alternatives for "as / if," which is an enjambment I would normally avoid, it provides some needed rhymes, which makes it much harder to change than other words in the line. The "as" gets promoted to carry a stress because of its position in the line, and the "if," which would normally carry the stress, gets demoted by its position in front of "circling."

Susan
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