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Unread 02-13-2019, 09:48 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,786
Default Rilke, Saint George

Saint George
by Rainer Maria Rilke

On bended knee, she’d called him to appear
the whole night long, the vigilant and weak
young maiden, saying: “See this dragon here,
and I do not know why he stays awake.”

Then, bursting into view through morning mist
on his dun horse, his helm and mail shirt blazing,
he saw her there, enchanted and distressed
and, from her humble kneeling, gazing

up at what he was, his splendor.
He bounded, glittering, across the lands
and downward, with his sword raised in both hands,
into clear and blatant danger,

too terrible, yet still besought. And she
knelt pleadingly, her hands clasped tighter still,
praying that for her he might prevail,
because she didn’t realize that He

exists yet, whom her heart, her simple, pure,
and ready heart, pulls downward from the light
of heavenly followers. Beside his fight
there stood, the way strong towers stand, her prayer.

S2L3-4 was "he saw her, captivated and distressed, / praying on her knees and gazing"
S5L2 "pulls" was "pulled"

Sankt Georg

Und sie hatte ihn die ganze Nacht
angerufen, hingekniet, die schwache
wache Jungfrau: Siehe, dieser Drache,
und ich weiß es nicht, warum er wacht.

Und da brach er aus dem Morgengraun
auf dem Falben, strahlend Helm und Haubert,
und er sah sie, traurig und verzaubert
aus dem Knieen aufwärtsschaun

zu dem Glanze, der er war.
Und er sprengte glänzend längs der Länder
abwärts mit erhobnem Doppelhänder
in die offene Gefahr,

viel zu furchtbar, aber doch erfleht.
Und sie kniete knieender, die Hände
fester faltend, dass er sie bestände;
denn sie wusste nicht, dass Der besteht,

den ihr Herz, ihr reines und bereites,
aus dem Licht des göttlichen Geleites
niederreißt. Zuseiten seines Streites
stand, wie Türme stehen, ihr Gebet.

Literal translation:
Saint George

And she had the whole night
called for him, kneeling, the weak,
wakeful maiden: Behold, this dragon,
and I do not know why he stays awake.

And then he broke through the morning grayness
on his dun horse, helmet and mail shirt shining,
and he saw her, sad and spellbound,
from her kneeling looking upward

at the splendor that he was.
And he bounded, shining, downwards
across the lands with raised two-handed sword
into the open danger,

much too terrible, but still begged for.
And she knelt more pleadingly, clasping
her hands tighter, that he might prevail for her,
because she did not know that He exists

whom her heart, her pure and ready heart,
pulls down from the light
of the divine attendants. Alongside his fight
stood, as towers stand, her prayer.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 02-13-2019 at 11:57 AM.
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Unread 02-13-2019, 10:01 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 3,695

Good morning Susan,

Very nice as always, though not my favorite Rilke poem. I love your work on this.
Anyway, two small nits in your crib: "aus dem Knieen" I read as "from the kneeling" and "niederreißt" as the present tense. I don't know if that will affect your rendering, though I thought you might try "praying from her kneeling gazing," with commas as appropriate. I'm not sure the present will work in English later. Oh, you have her knees again later, as does the German that time IIRC.
One last detail: your change from spellbound to captivated, which I think risks losing the magic that spellbound graphs to leave simple captivity there.

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Unread 02-13-2019, 12:00 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,786

Thanks for your comments, John. I have made some revisions to S2 and S5 to address the points you made. The maiden is not literally enchanted, but is entranced by his sudden appearance. I hope that the change of wording does not send the wrong message.

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Unread 02-13-2019, 12:57 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 3,695

Hi Susan,

I like your changes. My only thought on enchanted is that verzaubert as opposed to bezaubert suggests to me it is the dragon's doing, not St George's... if so, enchanted works quite well IMO.

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