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  #1  
Unread 09-20-2019, 04:36 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Default Hölderlin, The View (Die Aussicht)

The View (v1)

When people’s dwelling lives pass into distance,
Where in the distance, the time of vines then glimmers,
There also are the empty fields of summer,
The forest too appears with its dark picture.

That nature completes the image of the seasons,
That nature lingers as they go quickly gliding,
Is from fulfilment: the height of heaven shining
Upon the people, like trees wreathed in blossom.


The View (v2)

When people’s dwelling lives pass into distance,
Where in the distance, the time of vineyards gleams,
There also are the summer’s empty fields,
The forest too appears with its dark picture.

That nature completes the image of the seasons,
That nature lingers, that they glide quickly by,
Is from fulfilment; then high heaven shines
Upon the people, as trees are wreathed in blossom.


Die Aussicht

Wenn in die Ferne geht der Menschen wohnend Leben,
Wo in die Ferne sich erglänzt die Zeit der Reben,
Ist auch dabei des Sommers leer Gefilde,
Der Wald erscheint mit seinem dunklen Bilde.

Daß die Natur ergänzt das Bild der Zeiten,
Daß die verweilt, sie schnell vorübergleiten,
Ist aus Vollkommenheit, des Himmels Höhe glänzet
Den Menschen dann, wie Bäume Blüt umkränzet.


Literal translation: The View

When in(to) the distance go the people’s dwelling (living) lives
Where in(to) the distance gleams the time of vines
There (by there) is also the summer’s empty fields,
The forest appears with its dark picture

That nature completes/complements the picture of the times
That it lingers, they quickly glide over,
Is of fulfilment/perfection, the sky/heaven’s height gleams
On the people then, (in the same way) as trees are wreathed in blossom


(My German is very rusty, and this is my first attempt at a translation, so I'm probably way out of my depth posting here)

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-20-2019 at 06:48 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 09-20-2019, 05:48 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Matt,

The mighty Hoelderlin - very nice! I've got out my Michael Hamburger Poems and Fragments, which is really a superb translation, only to discover, as I'm sure you know, that "Die Aussicht" doesn't figure in it. An excellent choice then. So, let's take a look.

The View (v1)

When people’s dwelling lives pass into distance,
Where in the distance, the time of vines then glimmers,
There also are the empty fields of summer,
The forest too appears with its dark pictures.

Wenn in die Ferne geht der Menschen wohnend Leben,
Wo in die Ferne sich erglänzt die Zeit der Reben,
Ist auch dabei des Sommers leer Gefilde,
Der Wald erscheint mit seinem dunklen Bilde.

I'd take the -s off pictures. No other real nits. I might toy with "The View Out" as an option, since I find "The View" a bit weak in English. But it is a direct translation of the German.

That nature completes the image of the seasons,
That nature lingers as they go quickly gliding,
Is from fulfilment: the height of heaven shining
Upon the people, like trees wreathed in blossom.

Daß die Natur ergänzt das Bild der Zeiten,
Daß die verweilt, sie schnell vorübergleiten,
Ist aus Vollkommenheit, des Himmels Höhe glänzet
Den Menschen dann, wie Bäume Blüt umkränzet.

I'd use a semicolon not a colon, I think, for the German comma. Or maybe a dash (it's a subordinate clause). The final clause I'd render more like "as blossom wreathes trees."
Anyway, all this to say I see barely a slip in your Englishing of the German. You can tinker some with rhyme and meter, as you wish, but your German grammar and vocabulary seem to be holding up nicely. Ausgezeichnet!

Cheers,
John
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Unread 09-20-2019, 07:08 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Thanks John,

I'm glad that I seem to have the literal translation mostly right; I've corrected 'pictures' to 'picture'. I had wondered if S2L3 could be read as:

they glide over (the fact) that it lingers

I don't think so, but certainly I could read that from the English: "That it lingers, they glide over". What do you reckon?

This seems to be Hölderlin's last poem; it's the last in his collected works anyway. I'm reading 'Zeit' as 'season' in S2 because we seem to see autumn (the time of vines), summer and winter (the forest's dark picture) in S1, and spring (the blossom) at the close, so it seems to make more sense that "the image of the times". He seems to have written an awful lot about the seasons in the period after his breakdown, apparently often at a visitor's request for a poem: there are multiple late poems with the same titles: "Spring", "Summer", "Autumn", "Winter", (and also couple more entitled "Aussicht").

I wanted to use all feminine rhymes as in the original, which seems to add to the mood, but I wasn't entirely happy with "go quickly gliding", plus the ABBA pattern isn't as clear as it could be in S1, as the slant rhymes of kind overlap: 'glimmers' might be seen a slant rhyme with 'distance' as much as it is with 'summer', I guess. Hence the second version, where having the A rhymes only be feminine seemed to make that rhyme scheme clearer.

There might well be a better title. I guess in its favour 'view' has a double meaning of opinion/perspective. "The View Out" might work as suggestive of death the which I get a hint of in this poem, or maybe even "The Outlook"? In the first version, I'm using the colon because I've dropped 'then', and the colon seems to do that work for me.

Thanks again,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-20-2019 at 07:38 AM.
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Unread 09-20-2019, 07:40 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Matt,

I'm afraid I've not got round to a close look at your Version II. Sorry.
This line - "Daß die verweilt, sie schnell vorübergleiten" - as I read has I guess a waehrend implicit; it is contrasting the two clauses. I kind of like "The Outlook," which is perhaps less tendentious than "The View Out." Also, "times" - Zeiten - passing while Nature remains makes i think the most sense if we see it as seasons. The day-night repetition cycle doesn't alter enough to make this point, and "times" lacks the key repetitive element that the poet is leaning on. In short, I agree in your reading it as "seasons." I think it's necessary, il s'impose as the French say.
My German professor back in the day once said that the weird thing about Hoelderlin's late poems was not how complicated they were (like his early stuff), but how simple they were - limpid, even childlike if you will. Madness left the poet simplifying his art, which one wouldn't necessarily expect. I recently picked up the leading English-language bio of Hoelderlin, by David Constantine, but I'm afraid it's rather expensive. Hoelderlin is a hero of mine, and I do like how he wrote letter after letter to Schiller and Schiller ignored them. Hoelderlin is the greater lyric poet.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 09-20-2019, 01:10 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Thanks John,

I guess that if Hölderlin did have schizophrenia, then the 'negative' symptoms (negative in the sense of what's lost, rather than what's added) such as blunting of affect, poverty of thought, apathy, anhedonia and so one might well account for the change in his poetry.

-Matt
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Unread 09-21-2019, 03:54 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Matt,

Your list of symptoms makes sense.
I've barely begun the Constantine, and am unsure what the current thinking is on Hoelderlin's diagnosis. If it was schizophrenia, it was notably late-onset. It certainly ended his career as a poet.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 09-21-2019, 11:24 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Hey, Matt! It's delightful to see you in these parts, particularly on St. Matthew's Day.

Standard caveat: I don't know mein Arsch from mine elbow in German. I also have the same can't-see-the-forest-for-the-fascinating-details-on-this-one-insignificant-sapling syndrome over here as I do on all the other boards.

Overall, I can't quite grasp what point the poet is making, starting with L1. What are "people's dwelling lives"? Are they the same as "people's domestic lives" or "people's homebound lives"? Or simply are they simply the lives that people inhabit? And when they "pass into distance," what does that imply, both literally and in terms of the metaphor? Would it have anything to do with houses background of a landscape painting that places the natural subjects first? Or could Ferne mean "the beyond," i.e. passing into death?
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Unread 09-22-2019, 09:01 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Matt, hi Julie,

And Happy St Matthew's Day! I had no idea.
Julie, I think it's quite possible that the problematic phrases you indicate had a private meaning for Hoelderlin at this point in his career. That seems to me a common thing in madness. If so, we're unlikely to have access to that private universe; the best we can hope for is tools to recuperate the phrases into meaning they allow us as readers. What the Germans call Rezeptionsaesthetik. This all may be a bit obvious, but I thought i'd say it!

Cheers,
John
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Unread 09-22-2019, 11:54 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Thanks Julie & John,

And thanks for the name day greetings. I didn't know either.

Julie, one of the things that attracted me to this poem was that it's enigmatic, it left me pondering and returning to it.

I can see S1 as covering autumn, summer and winter, and S2L4 as spring. The lives of the people passing into the distance, so perhaps, as you say, the poem is in part about death, winter's dark picture. S2 seems to say that the seasons quickly change but nature remains. The cycle is perfection, fulfilment.

So perhaps the fulfilment here is that after winter comes the beauty and vitality of spring. And so for people, it's an analogous. So the close might suggest rebirth, a beautiful springtime following a dark winter -- or heaven: an eternal springtime in the afterlife, wreathed in blossom, that the lives of the living pass into the distance (old age, death), is necessary part of the a process that leads to fulfilment/perfection. I guess there could be a more psychological reading. When people dwell in remoteness, disconnection, a spring will follow to reconnect, to fulfill them.

That said, given the title, I wonder if he's saying: this is the view; with sufficient distance we see that the seasons change, but it's all nature, always perfect and complete. We're always wreathed with blossom. With S1, I can almost get the sense that somehow, with sufficient distance, all the seasons appear, exist at the same time. Also, I think I can read 'then'/'dann' in S2 in the sense of "as a result" or "therefore" rather than temporally. Something like, from sufficient distance we see that this is perfection, and that as a result of this perfection, we are all always wreathed in blossom. And if I translate 'heaven' as 'sky' there's a less of a sense of death and Judeo-Christian afterlife, and the sky with its height then is another form of distance.

Given what very little I know of his pre-breakdown writings, I guess could even equate the time of vines with Dionysus, and summer's empty fields with Apollo. When not just human lives but even the gods fade into distance, there is just the perfection of nature.

EDIT: I just read a paper comparing Hölderlin's late (pre-asylum) poems with his last poems. To gloss: in the late poems ("Bread and Wine" is taken as typical), Hölderlin had a romantic view that in the time of the ancient Greeks, the gods were present. In his (our) degenerate times, they are absent. But it's only now that they are absent that we can see that they were there, so we mourn the lack. There's some hoped-for future in which they might return. In the last poems, post-asylum, the gods are conspicuously absent. The author suggests that Hölderlin has come to see the sacred in nature directly. So, maybe, in this poem, 'the view' is the view we have in our late times. What glimmers in the distance are the gods, and the lives of people for whom they were real. So maybe 'wohnend' should be translated as ''inhabited'' ('wohnen' is to live, to inhabit, to dwell), or something similar, to suggest those people for whom the gods were alive and part of people's lives. Not that this would be enough to convey that though, I think. In the light of the above, maybe I should read, "that nature completes the image of the times" rather than 'seasons': and that here what is lost/lacking in the present times, what it needs, what completes it, is nature.

So hmm.

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-22-2019 at 06:41 PM.
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Unread 09-22-2019, 06:51 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Happy Autumnal Equinox!

It's tempting to see the four seasons in the poem, but I'm wondering if the scenes in S1 might actually be all of summer. I personally associate laden vines with summer rather than autumn--my neighbor's runaway grapevine is just about done dropping grapes into my backyard, and today is the first day of autumn. I'm also wondering why the fields of summer are empty. Empty of what? People, because it's not harvest time yet? When I think of an empty field, I think of one with bare dirt. Or post-harvest. And I also wonder if the dark forest is necessarily an image of winter. Forests can be dark anytime. Dark green?

Of course, we need there to be a winter if we want four seasons, and the poem is definitely about the progression of the seasons. I just wonder if we're imposing what we want to see on what's actually there.

It seems that both the "people's dwelling lives" (whatever those are--more and more, I'm thinking of them as "people's earth-dwelling lives") and the landscape scenes of S1 are in the distance, since that's said twice. But what happens in S2 isn't in the distance. Hmmm.

I don't know what it means, specifically. Just hmmm. I'm not going to let embarrassment about my ignorance keep me from opining about stuff. I am embracing the political moment.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 09-22-2019 at 08:59 PM.
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