New Poems, 1907 eBook ↠ New Poems, eBook ↠

New Poems, 1907 Translated by Edward Snow Winner of the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award Rilke s move to Paris inand his close association with Rodin led him in a new direction in his poetry Betweenandhe produced a torrent of brilliant work that he published in two volumes under the title Neue Gedichte New PoemsAs translator Edward Snow writes, these books together constitute one of the great instances of the lyric quest for objective experience The Departure of the Prodigal SonNow to go away from all this confusionthat is ours without belonging to us,that like the water in old wellspringsmirrors us trembling and destroys the image from all this, that is clinging to usonceas if with thorns to go away,and on all the scattered thingsyou d long since ceased to see they were so everyday and ordinary suddenly to gaze gently, contritely,and as in a beginning and from close by and to fathom how impersonally,how over everyone the sorrow The Departure of the Prodigal SonNow to go away from all this confusionthat is ours without belonging to us,that like the water in old wellspringsmirrors us trembling and destroys the image from all this, that is clinging to usonceas if with thorns to go away,and on all the scattered thingsyou d long since ceased to see they were so everyday and ordinary suddenly to gaze gently, contritely,and as in a beginning and from close by and to fathom how impersonally,how over everyone the sorrow camethat filled childhood up to the brim And even then to go away, hand slippingfrom hand, as if you tore a new healed wound,and to go away where into uncertainty,far into some warm, unrelated landthat behind all acting will beindifferent as a backdrop garden or wall and to go away why From urge, from instinct,from impatience, from dark expectation,from not understanding and not being understood To take all this upon yourself and in vainperhaps let fall the things you ve held,in order to die alone, not knowing why Is this the way new life commences In the HallHow they re all around us, these gentlemenin chamberlain s attire and lace,like a night around its order stargrowing ever darker, relentlessly,and these ladies, slight, fragile, yet made largeby their dresses, with one hand in their laps,small like the collar for a tiny dog how they re around each of us here around the reader,around the observer of these trinkets,many of which still belong to them.Full of tact, they let us go on undisturbedliving life as we conceive it, a lifethey don t understand They wanted blooming,and blooming is being beautiful but we want ripening,and that means being dark and taking pains.The TowerTour St Nicolas, FurnesEarth inwardness As if the goal toward whichyou re blindly climbing were the earth s outside,and you were climbing toward it in the steeplywinding bed of streams that have welled up slowlyfrom this groping clot of darkness through whichyour face is pressing, as if rising from the dead,and which suddenly you see, as though it plungedfrom this abyss which overhangs youand which, as gigantically above youit turns head over heels in the glimmering rafters,you recognize, with a rush of terror, feeling O if it climbs, hung like a bull But then gusty light pulls you out ofthat narrow ending Almost flying you see herethe skies again, dazzle upon dazzle,and there the depths, awake and full of use,and little days like those of Patenier,present all at once, their hours side by side,and bridges leaping through them like dogs,always on the scent of the bright roadwhich clumsy houses sometimes barelymanage to conceal, until far in the backgroundit moves relieved through brushwood and open field.Edward Snow Translation Somehow I too must come to make things not plastic, but written things realities that emerge from handwork Somehow I too must discover the smallest basic element, the cell of my art, the tangible immaterial means of representation for everything The Last JudgmentSo frightened, beyond their wildest fright,disordered, often full of holes and loose,they hunker down in the exploded furrowsof their field, not to be dissuadedof their shrouds, which they have grown to like.But angels come, and beg Somehow I too must come to make things not plastic, but written things realities that emerge from handwork Somehow I too must discover the smallest basic element, the cell of my art, the tangible immaterial means of representation for everything The Last JudgmentSo frightened, beyond their wildest fright,disordered, often full of holes and loose,they hunker down in the exploded furrowsof their field, not to be dissuadedof their shrouds, which they have grown to like.But angels come, and begin at onceto trickle oil into the dried out socketsand to put in each one s armpitswhatever in the tumult of that lifeits user managed not to desecrate for it still has a bit of warmth there,so that it won t chill the hand of Godwhen, up above, from either side he gentlygrasps it, to feel if it s still good.EveSimply she stands at the cathedral sgreat ascent, close to the rose window,holding the apple in the apple pose,guiltless guilty once and for all timeof the growing she gave birth towhen from the circle of the eternitiesshe lovingly went forth, to battleher way through the earth like a young year.Ah, she d have gladly lingered in that landfor just a bit longer, attendingto the animals insight and accord.But since she found the man determined,she went with him, aspiring after Death and she had hardly got to know God.Lunatics in the GardenDijonThe abandoned monastery still closesaround the courtyard, as though a wound were healing.Those who live there now also enjoy recessand take no part in the life outside.Whatever could happen came and went.Now they walk gladly with familiar paths,and separate and come upon each otheras though they circled, willing, primitive.Some of them, true, tend the spring beds there,humble, wretched, down on their knees but they have, when no one sees it,a surreptitious, twistedgesture for the tender early grass,a testing, half afraid caressing for that is friendly, and the roses redmay grow menacing and too intenseand may once again take them beyondwhat their souls recognize and know.But this can still be kept a secret how good the grass is and how soft.Edward Snow Translation I was struck by how much this poetry insists upon the gaze, the eye, and the way that the object demands the gaze or interrupts it Some of the poems were not so good, too complex and heavy, or too abstract some of that may be the act of translation, of course, but it is hard to know, and Rilke is of course famous both for his complexity and his abstraction But the majority of them were very good, and I must read it again in a few years to see what I make of it them they do have the weight I was struck by how much this poetry insists upon the gaze, the eye, and the way that the object demands the gaze or interrupts it Some of the poems were not so good, too complex and heavy, or too abstract some of that may be the act of translation, of course, but it is hard to know, and Rilke is of course famous both for his complexity and his abstraction But the majority of them were very good, and I must read it again in a few years to see what I make of it them they do have the weight of objects, as he wished, poems as created things with concrete reality to them despite being only in words This is a book I need to buy in order to read it many times over the course of many years I appreciated Robert Hass foreword, and his advice for non German speakers to read multiple translations of Rilke in order to understand his poetry This edition presents the poem in the original German with the rhyme scheme in the margin, and Joseph Cadora s rhymed English translation on the facing page, along with extensive notes in fact, there is a footnote to every poem Cadora must have spent an eno This is a book I need to buy in order to read it many times over the course of many years I appreciated Robert Hass foreword, and his advice for non German speakers to read multiple translations of Rilke in order to understand his poetry This edition presents the poem in the original German with the rhyme scheme in the margin, and Joseph Cadora s rhymed English translation on the facing page, along with extensive notes in fact, there is a footnote to every poem Cadora must have spent an enormous amount of time with Rilke s poetry and correspondence in order to give us this book I expect my three star rating would go up with subsequent readings.Here are a couple of the poems from the book Archaic Torso of ApolloWe could not ever know his wondrous head,with eyes like apples that are ripening.But the lamp of his torso is still glowing,although it is turned down low, to spreadhis glance, which abides and glimmers within.Else the curve of the breast could not dazzle you,not, in turning, could a smile play throughthose loins to the center of procreation.Else this stone would seem stunted and defiledand could not shimmer so, like a wildbeast s fur beneath the shoulder s sheer surface,and it would not burst from its bounds, so rifewith light and star like, for there is no placethat does not see you You must change your life.The Death of the BelovedOf death he knew only what all understand that it strikes us dumb and snatches us hence.But as she, not ripped away from his hand,no, but released so softly from his glance,crossed to that place of unknown shadow,and as he sensed that those on the other sidepossessed the moon of her maiden smile now and felt its ways and were gratified,then the dead wore a familiar face,so he felt as if related through herto them all he let those others chatterbut did not heed them, and named that placea land well located, a country most sweet.And searched its many pathways for her feet I love Rilke s language, and there are so many passages in this book that are poignant, beautiful, true This is relatively early stuff, and the full breadth of Rilke s vision of the world is not yet there But in some ways this makes the poemsaccessible and easier to appreciate I could do without some of the focus on Greek gods and French buildings, but even here, Rilke never rests long on the ostensible topic but is soon diving into the immediate sensations and insights of life as it is I love Rilke s language, and there are so many passages in this book that are poignant, beautiful, true This is relatively early stuff, and the full breadth of Rilke s vision of the world is not yet there But in some ways this makes the poemsaccessible and easier to appreciate I could do without some of the focus on Greek gods and French buildings, but even here, Rilke never rests long on the ostensible topic but is soon diving into the immediate sensations and insights of life as it is truly lived David Sings before SaulIKing, do you hear how my strings castdistances, through which we re winding Bewildered stars drift up to us,and we fall at long last like a rain,and it flowers where this rain came down.Girls flower, whom you once knew,and who now are women tempting me you can detect the scent of virgins,and young boys stand, stretchedslim and breathing, at secluded doors.That my sound could bring it back to you But my music s reeling drunkenly Your nights, King, your nights ,and how love David Sings before SaulIKing, do you hear how my strings castdistances, through which we re winding Bewildered stars drift up to us,and we fall at long last like a rain,and it flowers where this rain came down.Girls flower, whom you once knew,and who now are women tempting me you can detect the scent of virgins,and young boys stand, stretchedslim and breathing, at secluded doors.That my sound could bring it back to you But my music s reeling drunkenly Your nights, King, your nights ,and how lovely, weakened by your prowess,O how lovely all those bodies were.I can just keep pace with your remembering,since I divine But on what strings might Ipluck for you their dark moans of pleasure IIKing, you who had all this,and who with sheer lifeoverwhelm and overshadow me come down from your throne and smashmy harp, which you re exhausting so.It s like a tree picked bare through the branches that bore you fruita depth now gazes, as of days thatare approaching , and I scarcely know them.Let me sleep no longer beside the harp take a look at this boyish hand do you think, King, that it still can tspan the octaves of a body IIIKing, you ensconse yourself in darknesses,and still I have you in my grip.Look, my sturdy song spins on untorn,and the space around us both grows cold.My abandoned heart and your entangled oneare hanging in your anger s clouds,madly locked in one another s jawsand clawed together in a single pulse.Do you feel now, how we re changing King, King, gravity s becoming spirit.If only we can cling to one another,you to youth, King, I to age,we re almost like a circling star Perhaps the following poem summarizes my first impression of Rilke s New Poems The Rose Window In there The lazy pacing of their paws creates a stillness that s almost dizzying and how, then, suddenly one of the cats takes the gaze on it, that strays now and then, violently into its great eye The gaze that, as if seized by a whirlpool s circle, for a little while swims and then sinks and ceases to remember, when this eye, which apparently rests, opens and slams shut with a roaring and tears Perhaps the following poem summarizes my first impression of Rilke s New Poems The Rose Window In there The lazy pacing of their paws creates a stillness that s almost dizzying and how, then, suddenly one of the cats takes the gaze on it, that strays now and then, violently into its great eye The gaze that, as if seized by a whirlpool s circle, for a little while swims and then sinks and ceases to remember, when this eye, which apparently rests, opens and slams shut with a roaring and tears it deep into the red blood Thus, long ago, out of the darkness the cathedrals great rose windows seized a heart and tore it into God This translation above is slightly different from the one in the book page 53 , but the poetic breaking through from the ordinary to the transcending moments Rose Window of a Cathedral may be exactly what Rilke s poems are about an accessible pictorial narrative yet infused with a transcending glow, both beautiful and terrifying with the potential of a sudden pounce.Quite a few of the poems are from biblical sources The Olive Garden is an intensely human interpretation of Jesus s agony in Gethsemane Many others are from Greco Roman mythology such as Leda imagining the lure of being a swan for the rapist god Jupiter , and the long poems based on Euripides s Alcestis and Orpheus, which are re interpreted from different viewpoint.This reader is grateful for the readability of Rilke s poems with its rich reference to classic texts and symbols In some ways, Rilke reminded me of Cavafy s use of Homeric themes This collection is very enjoyable Nice Edition and especially good text comment And of course beautiful thing poems , particularly those about his journey in Flanders. Many of these poems are quite amazing in translation, and as it is a bilingual edition, it was possible to look over at the German and get a sense for the original flow many of them were rhymed but I think Snow made the right decision in not forcing that into the English versions It is nice to be able to query phrases that seem a little off I had an enjoyable time putting one of my favourites The Olive Garden into Google translate in the German and seeing what it came up with Rilke wrote Many of these poems are quite amazing in translation, and as it is a bilingual edition, it was possible to look over at the German and get a sense for the original flow many of them were rhymed but I think Snow made the right decision in not forcing that into the English versions It is nice to be able to query phrases that seem a little off I had an enjoyable time putting one of my favourites The Olive Garden into Google translate in the German and seeing what it came up with Rilke wrote so much, and so much of it is good, but I think many of these may be his best Some of them seem as though they would have been shocking in their day Pieta comes to mind But for goodness sake, do not just go find any translation Snow really does get it right The others I found of Pieta online just now were terrible, very sentimental, almost twee.Reading truly excellent poetry makes me wish I hadtime to write


About the Author: Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke is considered one of the German language s greatest 20th century poets His haunting images tend to focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets.He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose His two most famous verse sequences are the Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies his two most famous prose works are the Letters to a Young Poet and the semi autobiographical The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge He also wrotethan 400 poems in French, dedicated to his homeland of choice, the canton of Valais in Switzerland.


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