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Unread 04-04-2020, 08:13 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default Rilke, The Carousel

The Carousel
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Luxembourg Gardens

It spins around beneath the roof and its shadow
for a little while, the motley band
of multicolored steeds, all from the land
that lingers long before it sinks below.
Some, it’s true, are hitched to wagons, but
they all possess a dashing, lively air;
a fierce red lion goes among them there,
and now and then a snow-white elephant.

Even a stag is there, as if among
the deep woods, but he bears a saddle, and
a little girl in blue is strapped on tight.

And on the lion rides a boy in white,
who holds on with his ardent little hand
while the lion shows its teeth and tongue.

And now and then a snow-white elephant.

Upon the horses they go riding past,
and bright-eyed girls as well, who almost are
too old for this horse-jumping; in the midst
of a leap, they look off, somewhere, over here—

And now and then a snow-white elephant.

And on it goes, and hurries to be done,
and merely spins and turns and has no aim.
A red, a green, a gray sent passing by,
a little profile, only just begun—.
From time to time, a smile is turned this way,
a look of rapture, dazzled, squandered on
this breathless, blind, exhilarating game. . . .

Revisions:
S1L1 was "It spins around, with its own roof and shadow," then "It spins around beneath its roof and shadow"


Das Karussell

Jardin du Luxembourg

Mit einem Dach und seinem Schatten dreht
sich eine kleine Weile der Bestand
von bunten Pferden, alle aus dem Land,
das lange zögert, eh es untergeht.
Zwar manche sind an Wagen angespannt,
doch alle haben Mut in ihren Mienen;
ein böser roter Löwe geht mit ihnen
und dann und wann ein weißer Elefant.

Sogar ein Hirsch ist da, ganz wie im Wald,
nur dass er einen Sattel trägt und drüber
ein kleines blaues Mädchen aufgeschnallt.

Und auf dem Löwen reitet weiß ein Junge
und hält sich mit der kleinen heißen Hand
dieweil der Löwe Zähne zeigt und Zunge.

Und dann und wann ein weißer Elefant.

Und auf den Pferden kommen sie vorüber,
auch Mädchen, helle, diesem Pferdesprunge
fast schon entwachsen; mitten in dem Schwunge
schauen sie auf, irgendwohin, herüber -

Und dann und wann ein weißer Elefant.

Und das geht hin und eilt sich, dass es endet,
und kreist und dreht sich nur und hat kein Ziel.
Ein Rot, ein Grün, ein Grau vorbeigesendet,
ein kleines kaum begonnenes Profil -.
Und manchesmal ein Lächeln, hergewendet,
ein seliges, das blendet und verschwendet
an dieses atemlose blinde Spiel. . .


Literal translation:
The Carousel

Luxembourg Gardens

With a roof and its shadow, it turns
itself for a little while, the herd
of multi-colored horses, all from the land
that lingers long before it goes under.
It’s true that some are harnessed to a wagon,
but all have spirit in their bearing;
an angry red lion goes with them
and now and then a white elephant.

Even a stag is there, just as if in a wood,
except that he bears a saddle and on it
a little girl in blue is buckled.

And on the lion rides a boy in white
and holds on with his ardent little hand
while the lion shows its teeth and tongue.

And now and then a white elephant.

And on the horses they come past,
also girls, bright-eyed, already almost too old
for this horse-leaping: in the midst of the bounding
they look off, anywhere, over here—

And now and then a white elephant.

And it goes on and hastens to be done
and circles and merely turns itself and has no goal.
A red, a green, a gray sent past,
a little hardly begun profile—.
And sometimes a smile, turned toward here,
a blissful one, that is dazzled and squandered
on this breathless, blind game. . . .

Last edited by Susan McLean; 04-15-2020 at 07:12 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 04-05-2020, 09:40 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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A red, a green, a gray sent passing by,

Three of the four horses of the apocalypse!

(Kidding, kidding.)

I enjoyed this very much, Susan. In particular, I like the almost villanelle-like repetend of the white elephant, and the subtle comparison with the earth in

And on it goes, and hurries to be done,
and merely spins and turns and has no aim.


Near the end I also like your comma before "squandered," which is just where I wanted to tell Rilke to put one in.

I found "its own" distracting in L1. Doesn't everything with a roof have "its own" roof, and everything with a shadow have "its own" shadow? And in the context of a roof, "shade" would probably be more appropriate than "shadow." I wonder if changing "with" to "beneath" would be helpful. Probably not, as one of the most distinguishing features of a carrousel, at a distance anyway, is how the spinning roof looks.

I looked up the one at Luxembourg, to see if its roof has spoke-like stripes to emphasize the spinning, but it doesn't, at least not currently. It looks like a green tarp. Also, the animals look a little the worse for (over a century of) wear, and apparently have not been replaced since Rilke's time: https://untappedcities.com/2013/01/2...sels-of-paris/ I was surprised to see no floor. Wow. They just hang. But the shade or shadow would be more noticeable with no floor, too.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 04-05-2020 at 09:55 AM.
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  #3  
Unread 04-05-2020, 10:03 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Julie, I have taken your suggestion for changing "with" to "beneath" in S1L1. Thanks.

Susan
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  #4  
Unread 04-05-2020, 10:10 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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P.S., thanks for finding the image of the carousel. I had meant to look for it myself, but had got distracted. I think I want "shadow" instead of "shade" in the first line, not only for the rhyme, but also because there are darker nuances to "shadow." Rilke often takes a positive, upbeat image and finds the darkness in it.

Susan
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  #5  
Unread 04-05-2020, 12:49 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Would "between its roof and shadow" work?

I also want to correct what I said earlier about the carousel apparently not having changed since Rilke's time, since the elephant is now gray, and the lion seems to be missing from the row in front of the green wagon:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLWE97hUAcU

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 04-05-2020 at 12:58 PM.
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  #6  
Unread 04-05-2020, 06:32 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Julie, I don't think that "between its roof and shadow" works because the shadow falls everywhere under the roof, not just on the ground below. It is interesting to see that some changes have happened to the actual carousel, which I would expect.

Susan
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  #7  
Unread 04-07-2020, 03:52 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Just bumping this up, so others can see and enjoy this beautiful translation.
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