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Old 01-31-2001, 12:39 PM
Christopher Mulrooney Christopher Mulrooney is offline
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 356

Boulez has pointed out that artists don't make the best administrators, nor do they always turn out to be the best critics. Nabokov's rueful despair over Finnegans Wake, which perhaps can only be understood as an overanalyzed evocation of the Emerald Isle, is one of the most notable examples. Elsewhere I will discuss Neruda's reputation as well as that of Borges, whose centennial was recently celebrated with new translations of his verse which I think failed to do him justice. Rilke, however, is my theme, and Beckett is no help here short of clearing away malfocused perception of a poet who is worthy of his hire (to Rodin). This is my translation:

Mirrors: no-one yet has knowing written
what you in your nature are.
You, as with mere holes of sieves
replete intervals of time.

You, still wastrels of the empty hall—
when dusk falls, wide as woods...
and the lustre like a sixteen-pointer goes
through your impassability.

Sometimes you are full of painting.
Some seem gone into you—
others you send shy away.

But the fairest will stay, till
yonder in your clenched cheeks
pierces clear unloosed Narcissus.

A lustre is a chandelier, a sixteen-pointer is "an eight-year-old stag" (C.F. MacIntyre), yonder is drüben.

[This message has been edited by Christopher Mulrooney (edited January 31, 2001).]
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Old 01-31-2001, 01:29 PM
Alan Sullivan Alan Sullivan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: South Florida, US
Posts: 6,536

In spite of my concern about the proliferating boards on this site, I have sometimes thought that there ought to be a translation board. Mike Juster is a translator of some note, but he has his hands full as metrical moderator.

The meaning of this seems clearer than other Rilke translations I've seen, which usually have left me wondering whether their murkiness was the work of translator or poet. "Replete" did throw me a bit.

Kavafy wrote a fine mirror poem toward the end of his life. I believe it was called "The Mirror in the Front Hall." He also wrote a "Chandelier." I prefer the Keeley and Sherrard translation.

Robert Mezey, who has recently been visiting the Eratosphere, coauthored a superb translation of Borges' Collected Poems, which has been held off the market by a publishing and copyright dispute. I expect to post some samples soon.

Thanks for posting the Rilke, Christopher.

Alan Sullivan
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Old 02-01-2001, 07:13 PM
Christopher Mulrooney Christopher Mulrooney is offline
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 356

Thank you very much, Alan. "Replete" modifies "you", and let's not forget Lewis Carroll's magnum opus, or is it the other one, which makes its way into Borges' "Susana Soca":

Never daring at all tread that perplexed
Labyrinth, she looked on from outside
The forms and all the tumult and the ride,
Like that other lady of the glass.

Jorge Luis Borges, tr. C.M.

[This message has been edited by Christopher Mulrooney (edited February 01, 2001).]
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