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Old 08-15-2017, 11:44 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 13,951
Default Piano Practice -- Rilke

by Rainer Maria Rilke

The summer hums. A tired afternoon.
Confused, she settled in her crisp new dress
and played into the étude's weightiness
impatience for a here-and-now that soon

could come: tomorrow, later when it's dark --,
that maybe was already there, disguised;
and by the picture window, oversized,
she felt revulsion for the well-groomed park.

She broke off; gazed outside, and with a quick
motion folded her hands; wished for a book --
then shoved the jasmine fragrance in the nook
fiercely aside. She found it made her sick.

Übung am Klavier

Der Sommer summt. Der Nachmittag macht müde;
sie atmete verwirrt ihr frisches Kleid
und legte in die triftige Etüde
die Ungeduld nach einer Wirklichkeit,
die kommen konnte: morgen, heute abend –,
die vielleicht da war, die man nur verbarg;
und vor den Fenstern, hoch und alles habend,
empfand sie plötzlich den verwöhnten Park.
Da brach sie ab; schaute hinaus, verschränkte
die Hände; wünschte sich ein langes Buch
und schob auf einmal den Jasmingeruch
erzürnt zurück. Sie fand, daß er sie kränkte.


The summer is buzzing. The afternoon is getting tired;
she breathed, confused, her fresh dress
and placed in the weighty/urgent etude
impatience for a reality

which could come: tomorrow, tonight --
which was perhaps there, which was merely concealed;
and before the windows, high and holding all,
she suddenly felt the spoiled/fussy park.

Then she broke off; looked out, folded
her hands; wished she had a long book,
and all at once pushed the jasmine/odor
angrily back. She found it was offending/injuring her.
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Old 08-15-2017, 12:25 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 2,045

Greetings Roger,

I enjoyed this. It seems to me you've taken more small liberties with the German than you did in "Die Erblindende", but there's nothing that betrays the text. Atmete - breathed - for instance is going to sound weird in English. And yet, maybe after all that weirdness is part of Rilke's charm, of the spell he casts.
My only actual thought would be to go with "A weary afternoon", for the meter.


Oh - I also find Rilke's switch to the preterite odd, and i'm glad you've kept that.
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Old 08-16-2017, 09:24 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 3,223

Roger, this translation works even better than your previous one.

I do think “played” in line three is an over-translation of “legte”: “legen” is simply “put” or “place”

I also think it is important that the window is “alles habend”—it contains the whole world and is thus more than “oversized.”

My understanding of “und schob auf einmal den Jasmingeruch/erzürnt zurück” is that she closes the window. The jasmine fragrance is coming in from outside so “in the nook” is misleading.

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Old 08-16-2017, 12:18 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 2,045

... maybe "the jasmine scent that filled the nook"?
I agree with Aaron's other remarks too. But I don't see how to render alles habend.

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Old 09-12-2017, 02:50 PM
AZ Foreman's Avatar
AZ Foreman AZ Foreman is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 556
Blog Entries: 1

First four lines are good. I rather like the multiple resonances of "played into" both in the sense of music-making and in the sense of "going along with, accommodating." One thing though is that rendering Wirklichkeit as "here-and-now" just seems a bit un-Rilkean. It works in the poem, but it seems a bit too obvious in its trying.

"In the nook" seems a bit awkward to me. What nook, and where? Maybe "in a nook." Or else "in that nook"

Last edited by AZ Foreman; 09-12-2017 at 03:38 PM.
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