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  #1  
Unread 03-28-2021, 07:11 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default Rilke, The Square

The Square
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Furnes

Expanded randomly by things that were:
by rage and tumult, by the varied crew
attending the convicted to their death,
by fair booths, by the market-crier’s mouth,
and by the Duke, on horseback passing through,
and by Burgundian hauteur

(the backdrop to it on all sides),

the public square unceasingly invites
the distant windows into its broad space,
while emptiness’s train and acolytes
gradually spread out and take their place

in rows of shops. The little houses, ascending
into their gables, want to see it all,
shyly hiding each other from towers standing
always behind, inordinately tall.


Revisions:
S1L1 "things that were" was "past events"
S1L6 "hauteur" was "arrogance"


Der Platz

Furnes

Willkürlich von Gewesnem ausgeweitet:
von Wut und Aufruhr, von dem Kunterbunt
das die Verurteilten zu Tod begleitet,
von Buden, von der Jahrmarktsrufer Mund,
und von dem Herzog, der vorüber reitet,
und von dem Hochmut von Burgund,

(auf allen Seiten Hintergrund):

ladet der Platz zum Einzug seiner Weite
die fernen Fenster unaufhörlich ein,
während sich das Gefolge und Geleite
der Leere langsam an den Handelsreihn

verteilt und ordnet. In die Giebel steigend,
wollen die kleinen Häuser alles sehen,
die Türme vor einander scheu verschweigend,
die immer maßlos hinter ihnen stehen.


Literal translation:
The Square

Furnes

Randomly expanded by what has been:
by rage and turmoil, by the motley crowd
that accompany the condemned to death,
by booths, by the market-crier’s voice,
and by the Duke, who rides through,
and by the arrogance of Burgundy

(the backdrop on all sides),

the square ceaselessly invites
the distant windows to enter its expanse,
while the entourage and escorts
of emptiness spread out and arrange themselves

among the rows of shops. Ascending into their gables,
the little houses want to see everything,
shyly hiding each other from the towers,
which always stand behind them immoderately.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 03-28-2021 at 06:28 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 03-28-2021, 09:05 AM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Hi, Susan, I generally like your version apart from two lines in the first stanza where the bold flatness of the crib and the German are superior to my ear. “Hochmut” says it all: “the arrogance of Burgundy”. A thorough slap that’s just right in English, and impossible to rhyme. Could you consider not rhyming lines one and four this time to let the invective shine through. Doing so would give you great freedom to choose even better language for line one.

When Rilke gets rolling he is music to my mind. He and Trakl are almost the only modern German language poets I can tolerate reading for very long. He goes very deep into the language. I seriously look forward to obtaining your translations all in a bunch at almost any reasonable price. Rilke, when he’s not being a little silly, brings me a special kind of quiet peace. Rilke soothes itches that others don’t reach.
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  #3  
Unread 03-28-2021, 09:33 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Allen, I originally had L1 as "Expanded randomly by things that were:" and L6 as "and by Burgundian hauteur." I like the current version better, but I will gladly hear others' reactions. I can't go with "and by the arrogance of Burgundy" if I want to mirror the four-beat line of the German L6, something that I have been trying to do.

Susan
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  #4  
Unread 03-28-2021, 11:45 AM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Hauteur -- not so bad. Reconsider?
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  #5  
Unread 03-28-2021, 06:31 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Allen, I have given it a try.

Susan
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  #6  
Unread 03-28-2021, 06:54 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I like, I like.
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  #7  
Unread 03-29-2021, 09:26 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Me, too.

Could "(the backdrop to it on all sides)," be changed to "(the backdrop to it, everywhere),"? "On all sides" is more vivid, but "everywhere" might reclaim the definitive chime between the last line of the first strophe and the stand-alone line that follows it.
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  #8  
Unread 03-29-2021, 08:34 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Something like "Burgundian excess pride // on every side" ???
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  #9  
Unread 03-29-2021, 09:13 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Allen and Julie, I meant for "sides" to be a slant rhyme with "invites" and "acolytes." I think "on all sides" evokes the square itself, which has sides. There is some ambiguity about whether the backdrop is the square or the arrogance, but I think Rilke is having it both ways through his wording.

Susan
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  #10  
Unread 03-29-2021, 11:29 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Oh, yes, I noticed the slant rhyme of "sides." I just thought Rilke really seemed to want to draw a LOT of attention to that parenthetical statement, what with the parentheses and the spacing before and after, and also the rhyme that interrupts one's expectations even while unifying the first stanza. There's a different effect when that line is the first occurrence of a particular rhyme sound in the poem ("sides"), as opposed to the fourth (as in the German) or third (if you wanted to change it to "everywhere," which you don't. Fair enough.

I had assumed that by "hauteur" (good word choice, given the verticality), Rilke was talking about the many towers visible from the central market in Veurne, Belgium. None of the photos I've seen show a view of anything but sky and towers from the Grote Markt. (Okay, not only about the towers, but about the towers as a symbol of pride.)

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 03-30-2021 at 09:56 AM.
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