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October 04, 2009



What a pity he was so a bad man! I admired his poetry and even tried to translate a few of his poems to Judaeospanish of my childhood. I am surprised and a little sad. His poems are marvelous and his German very high, perhaps the nicest since von Schiller und von Goethe!


Translating Rilke is nearly impossible. Our greatest poet of the modern era- Robert Lowell - attempted, but ended up creating something entirely new:


Dieter Kief

McIntyre's Rilke collection in the paperback of the University of California Press is still available here and there for a few bucks. It's the best Rilke collection I know of and it features an introductory essay by McIntyre, which is great, really.
McIntyre's translation is not bad either, very useful.

I once literally stumbled on the book on a staircase in New York, where some gentle soul had left it, to be taken for free. And the book accompanies me ever since.

Claude Neuman

Evening (The book of images)

The evening slowly changes its array
that's held for it by rows of ancient trees;
you watch: and lands from you then break away,
one heaven-bound and one that falls and flees;

and they leave you, to neither quite belonging,
not quite so somber as the house tongue-tied,
not quite so sure eternity to sing
as that which becomes star and soars each night-

and they leave you (untold, too mixed by far)
your life, afraid and huge and ripe in age,
so that it may, now fettered and now sage,
become in you, by turns, both stone and star.


Der Abend wechselt langsam die Gewänder,
die ihm ein Rand von alten Bäumen hält;
du schaust: und von dir scheiden sich die Länder,
ein himmelfahrendes und eins, das fällt;

und lassen dich, zu keinem ganz gehörend,
nicht ganz so dunkel wie das Haus, das schweigt,
nicht ganz so sicher Ewiges beschwörend
wie das, was Stern wird jede Nacht und steigt -

und lassen dir (unsäglich zu entwirrn)
dein Leben bang und riesenhaft und reifend,
so dass es, bald begrenzt und bald begreifend,
abwechselnd Stein in dir wird und Gestirn.

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