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  #1  
Unread 11-22-2019, 03:18 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Default Rilke, Don Juan's Election

Don Juan’s Selection
by Rainer Maria Rilke

The angel came to him and said: Prepare
wholly for me. And this is what I bid.
To have some person overstep too far,
so as to make the sweetest at their side
turn bitter, that is what I need.
You too know loving little better, true
(don’t interrupt me: you are wrong).
But you’re on fire, and it’s set down that you
will lead a multitude along
to loneliness, which has this low
admission point. Allow in these,
the ones that I assigned you, so
they may, in their increasing woe,
outlast and out-howl Heloïse.

Revisions:
Title was "Don Juan’s Election"
L3 was "For that some person shall transgress too far,"
L11 was "way in. You must allow in these,"


Don Juans Auswahl

Und der Engel trat ihn an: Bereite
dich mir ganz. Und da ist mein Gebot.
Denn dass einer jene überschreite,
die die Süßesten an ihrer Seite
bitter machen, tut mir not.
Zwar auch du kannst wenig besser lieben,
(unterbrich mich nicht: du irrst),
doch du glühest, und es steht geschrieben,
dass du viele führen wirst
zu der Einsamkeit, die diesen
tiefen Eingang hat. Lass ein
die, die ich dir zugewiesen,
dass sie wachsend Heloïsen
überstehn und überschrein.


Literal translation:
Don Juan’s Selection

And the angel came toward him: Prepare
yourself completely for me. And here is my command.
For that someone shall transgress
so as to make the sweetest at their side
bitter is necessary to me.
Indeed, you too know little better how to love
(do not interrupt me: you are wrong),
but you glow, and it is written
that you will lead many
to loneliness, which has this
low entrance. Let in
the ones that I assigned to you
so that they, increasing,
may outlast and outcry Heloïse.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 12-03-2019 at 12:47 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 11-23-2019, 04:14 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Interesting. I can't help but see it as a sort of cop-out, given Rilke's identification with Don Juan, as if he's saying Don Juan (and thus he himself) wasn't responsible for his womanizing, because it was pre-ordained. Bah. But still interesting.

I think "Election" has too many connotations other than the Calvinistic pre-ordainment one. I'd prefer "Selection" or "Assignment" to avoid the distraction of those.

"For that some person shall" doesn't sound very contemporary. Any way to modernize that?

Capitalizing "Loneliness" would make it seem more like a city or country into which Don Juan facilitates entry. I didn't see L11's two "ins" ("way in. You must allow in these") as both referring to the metaphor of loneliness as a land or other place, until I read the crib.
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Unread 11-23-2019, 07:45 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Julie, I tend to agree with your assessment of Rilke's attitude toward Don Juan. But Rilke is always interesting. I rather like "Election" in the title because of the religious overtones of being the "chosen one." "Selection" is much clearer and more neutral, but also a bit less arresting. I'll see what I can do to make L3 sound more natural, though I had thought that an angel might sound a bit stilted and old-fashioned. I do not want to capitalize "loneliness." Though Rilke makes it sound like a special place, I am sure that he really is referring just to a state of mind that he considers the natural condition of the fully conscious human mind. That Don Juan is seen as doing women a favor by bringing them to this state is bizarre, but that is Rilke for you. I may be able to get rid of one of the "in's" in L11.

Susan
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Unread 11-24-2019, 02:22 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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I have made some changes to L3 and L11. For now, I am keeping the title the same, but I will listen to what anyone else thinks about it.

Susan
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  #5  
Unread 11-28-2019, 01:04 AM
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Spindleshanks Spindleshanks is offline
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Late in coming to this, Susan, but I'm inclined to agree with Julie that "Selection" would be the preferred title, for the reason that it encompasses both Don Juan's selection by the angel and his assigned role by the angel to select from among those women assigned him.

I would also suggest restoring the opening "And" to the first line as a continuing element in the narrative, reflecting the original.

Peter
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Unread 11-30-2019, 01:19 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Thanks for your responses, Peter. I don't think Don Juan is being told to select women to seduce. If I understand it correctly, he is being given a list to follow, so the choice is the angel's, not his. Though I still like "election" better in the title, I may go with "selection" just because you and Julie seem to be distracted by the other meanings of "election." Rilke often starts a poem with "And," but that is a practice much more common in German than in English. I have been eliminating some initial instances of "And" to make the poems sound more natural in English. I am ambivalent about changing such a stylistic element, but it is a tic of Rilke's that I find tedious. I suspect it is meant to make his poems sound more biblical.

Susan
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Unread 11-30-2019, 08:58 PM
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Spindleshanks Spindleshanks is offline
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As I see it, Susan, the angel commands Don Juan to "allow in" the angel's selection of candidates for the prospective loneliness club that the seducer is accumulating. That seems to suggest an already existing group selected by Don Juan, albeit according with his destiny. The angel's selection is required to become an ordained part of Don Juan's selection, having met the low bar set by the Don, no? That view seems to agree with Stimpson and Lipking's comment on this poem ("Abandoned Women and Poetic Tradition"—no, I haven't read it; just the excerpt): "Don Juan . . . is rather pathetic; he may think that he does the selecting, but the truth is that he is selected."

Peter
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Unread 12-03-2019, 12:46 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Sorry about the delayed response, Peter. You may be right that Don Juan had already begun his seduction campaign when he is visited by the angel and commissioned into God's plan. Certainly, Don Juan already thinks he knows something about love, though the angel tells him that he is wrong. I have changed the poem's title.

Susan
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