(work in progress - will be updated as new lines are added to the translation)
The Third Elegy, from The Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke:
One thing is, to hail your love. Quite another, alas,
to bail out every living river deity of the blood.
The one she knows from a distance, her young man, what does he know
himself about the Lord of Desire, who often through lonely hours,
before maiden became mistress, and as if the girl did not exist,
o, dripping with God knows what, raised the idol,
calling up the night for God knows how long, to uproar.
O, the inherent Neptune, o his gruesome trident.
O, the dark wind of his bosom through the winding Triton.
Hark, as the night is sliding down and turning. Is it true,
stars, that your primordial attraction towards light
has led to his desire to be in the beloved's sight? Does he not
perceive the reason for this inner night, and sees
the pure truth of her face, in this milky flood of galactic purity?
It was not for you, alas, and not his mother, that
his eyebrows rose and bent in bows of expectation.
Not with you, his tender darling, not with you,
bowed his lips then to more fertile prayer. Do
you really think, it was your light steps forward now
that shook his soul, you, who walk like early breeze?
Sure, you scared his heart; much older heartaches
scared him through and through, just by your touch.
And summon him... you cannot call him back from such obscure community.
Freely he wants to come, breaks out; relieved gets used to stay
inside your secret heart and brings himself, begins himself.
Then, did he begin himself?
Mother, _you_ could make him tiny, you were the starter of him;
to you was he new, you bent the friendly world as an arc
over the new eyes, and sent away the strange.
Where, o where, are those days, when you appeared to simply
manage surging chaos for him behind your slender figure?
Many things were hidden to him; the nightly-suspicious bedroom --
you made it harmless, from your heart filled with safety
you added humanity in that night room of his.
Never in darkness, no, in your closer presence
you placed the night light, which shone as in friendship.
Never a creaking, that you did not smiling explain,
so it seemed you expected it, knew in advance _when_ a sound would enter...
And he listened with relief. So much power was in your
tender appearance; behind the wardrobe fled,
disguised in hanging robe, his fate, and his worrisome
future fitted easily between the moving folds of the drape.
And himself, where he lay, the relieved one, beneath sleeping lids,
melting the sweet characters of your effortless narration
into a tasting of early fall-asleep --:
appeared just so shepherded… But _inside_ him: who stopped,
who withstood the umbilical flow within?
No vigilance _then_ in the sleeper; sleeping,
but dreaming, but feverish: when he melted himself in it.
Him, the new, the shy one, how ensnared in
that propagating growth of his inner events,
already wrought into patterns, into floral chokers, into fawnish
hunting forms. How he devoted himself --. Loved.
Loved his inside, his inner wilderness,
this virgin forest within, where on fallen silent ones
his neon heart was growing. Loved. Abandoned it, went and
faced his own roots, going out from that powerful source,
where his humble first birth already was history. Loving
he stepped down into the more ancient blood, into clefts,
where the ferocious one lay, still full of forefathers. And all
terrible things knew him, twinkled, as in agreeing sense.
The Fourth Elegy
O, deciduous placentae, o when withering?
We are not one. Are not as birds of passage,
The wellknown garden,
and softly swaying: first then the dancer arrived.
Not that one. Enough! And even if his footsteps seem so light
he is disguised and will stay a journeyman (Geselle, Bürger)
who enters through the kitchen door into the apartment.
(Translation from German to English by Maria Ljungdahl, Sweden, 7 July - 11 August 2010)
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