Saturday, January 23, 2016

No. 12 Loneliness

Well, that’s it. Twelve translations are done, leaving twelve to go. (We are performing the first twelve Winterreise February 10 at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center.) The challenge in this one was to maintain the simplicity of the vocabulary: I had to change "trübe," which expresses absolutely everything to "somber" which reaches for about 3/4 of the meaning while pulling a muscle in the process. This also produced some regrettable alliteration that would make Wagner proud. I found that simple words like “merry” “carefree” and “bright" are closer to the German than their more artful alternatives.
I didn't want to know too much in the way of music history before I got to this point because I wanted the poems to open to me of themselves. Now that I've finished translating half of the cycle, I’m loving Bostridge's fascinating take on Winterreise as well as Fischer-Dieskau’s and Richard Wigmore's. There's not enough space here to share all the insights from these authors, but it is instructive to know that the cycle originally ended here:

12. Loneliness
A single somber cloud shape
Drifts through the carefree sky
While in the highest fir trees
A feeble breeze blows by
So down my lonely byway
I plod with trudging feet
Through merry, bright expanses
Alone no one to greet
Alas, the air is still
Alas, the world’s aglow
Before when storms were raging
I was not ailing so

12. Einsamkeit
Wie eine trübe Wolke
Durch heit're Lüfte geht,
Wenn in der Tanne Wipfel
Ein mattes Lüftchen weht:
So zieh ich meine
Straße Dahin mit trägem Fuß,
Durch helles, frohes
Leben Einsam und ohne Gruß.
Ach, daß die Luft so ruhig !
Ach, daß die Welt so licht !
Als noch die Stürme tobten,
War ich so elend nicht.

No comments:

Post a Comment