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Unread 06-28-2020, 11:44 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default Rilke, The Solitary

The Solitary
by Rainer Maria Rilke

No: a tower shall rise within my heart
and at its upper edge I’ll be installed—
where nothing else exists, once more the hurt
and the unsayable, once more the world.

Another thing alone in the immense,
becoming dark and then illuminated,
another final, yearning countenance
banished into the never-to-be-sated,

another most remote and stony face,
responsive to its inner gravity,
while vastnesses that kill it silently
compel it on to ever greater bliss.

Revisions:
S1L1 comma replaced by colon
S1L2 colon replaced by dash
S2L1 was "Still one more thing alone in the immense,"
S2L3 was "still one last ardent, yearning countenance"
S4L1 was "still one most isolated, stony face,"


Der Einsame

Nein: ein Turm soll sein aus meinem Herzen
und ich selbst an seinen Rand gestellt:
wo sonst nichts mehr ist, noch einmal Schmerzen
und Unsäglichkeit, noch einmal Welt.

Noch ein Ding allein im Übergroßen,
welches dunkel wird und wieder licht,
noch ein letztes, sehnendes Gesicht
in das Nie-zu-Stillende verstoßen,

noch ein äußerstes Gesicht aus Stein,
willig seinen innneren Gewichten,
das die Weiten, die es still vernichten,
zwingen, immer seliger zu sein.


Literal translation:
The Solitary

No: a tower shall exist in my heart
and I myself will be placed at its edge:
where nothing else exists, once again pain
and the unsayable, once again the world.

Still one more thing alone in immensity,
which becomes dark and light again,
still one last, yearning face
banished into the never-to-be-appeased,

still one uttermost face of stone,
responsive to its own inner weight,
that the distances, which destroy it silently,
force on toward ever greater bliss.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 06-29-2020 at 11:50 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 06-29-2020, 11:28 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Hey, Susan!

It reads very well, so I love the way it sounds. I just can't quite figure out what Rilke's talking about, in either the translation or the crib.

Maybe a more colloquial translation of "noch einmal" would be helpful for conveying the meaning and tone. Would "except" work instead of "once more" in Q1, and "just one more" instead of "still one more" work in Q2 and Q3? "Still" suggests positive qualities like perseverance, but my gut tells me that the self-deprecating "just" might be more appropriate here, if Rilke is referring to the futility of his compulsion toward a bliss that he knows will probably be temporary, if he reaches it at all.

A more dramatic pause than a comma after the initial "No" would make that denial more definitive, and thus more effective.
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  #3  
Unread 06-29-2020, 11:58 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Julie, I have changed the first comma to a colon, and that meant that I needed to change the second colon, so I tried changing that to a dash. I have also come up with an alternate wording of the "still one more" that was throwing you. I think Rilke's argument is that his solitude and unrequited yearning are necessary parts of his being a poet, and that by undergoing this pain and isolation he is performing a service to others. The "still one more" or "another" repetitions imply that he is not the only poet (or person) who has done this. I also think he is implying that this self-abnegation is rewarded by a kind of spiritual bliss, despite the pain and loneliness. There is a similar argument in his poem about Mary Magdalene, "The Risen."

Susan
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Unread 06-29-2020, 04:09 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Do you see the "noch einmal"s of Q1 as different from the "noch einmal"s of Q2 and Q3? That is, in Q1, his personal experience of confronting the hurt and ineffability and the world is what is repeating, but in Q2 and Q3, he's becoming one in a series of poets who has experienced the same thing?
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Unread 06-29-2020, 05:18 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Julie, the "noch einmal" of S1 does not mean the same thing as "noch ein" in S2 and S3. The first one means "once again" and the second means "another" or "still one more." But, yes, in the first stanza he is focusing on himself and in the other stanzas he is comparing himself to those who have gone before.

Susan
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