Tuesday, December 02, 2008

wondering at the languages I don't know

I wish I could read German. I have read many translations of Rilke. Some sound better than others, but they have many differences, leading me to wonder what the original actually contains.

Hail to the spirit, with power that connects;
for we live in figures. And with tiny steps
the hours go by, keeping pace
alongside our actual days.

In the absence of knowing our true location,
we deal with interrelation
the antennae feel the space
and the empty distances carry...

Pure tension. Oh music of forces at play!
From you, is not, through casual commerce,
every disturbance deflected away?

Even the farmer who works and lives
where seeds transform themselves to summers
never does enough. The earth bestows. -Sonnets to Orpheus, Ranier Maria Rilke

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