Friday, January 22, 2016

No. 8 Backward Glance

At this point they started getting harder and harder. Each translation took anywhere from ten to fifteen hours. I don't know what I would have done without Schubert's musical setting, which always inspired some expedient rhymes just when I thought there was no solution. How do people translate poetry without music? For me, the whole rhyming thing started to feel a bit ungepatchged as I got deeper into the work, but a prose translation just didn't sing. (I attempted a 'free prose translation' of No. 10.) The songs don't work without their delicate rhymes, always perfect in German, sometimes contrived in English...

VIII. Backward Glance
My footprints burn with every step
Although I walk on ice and snow
I dare not stop to catch my breath
Until the towers pale below
I'm sure I tripped on every stone
So hurried was my quick retreat
The crows hurled bits of ice and snow
Down upon my hat on every street
How strange you now appear before me
You town of insincere repute
Once from your windows clear and shimmering
Rang lark and nightingale's dispute
With thickening lindens round me blooming
The town's clear fountains gaily splashed
And oh, a maiden's eyes were looming
And there my hopes were soundly dashed
When thoughts of her come to remind me
I long to cast one wayward glance
To turn and gaze again behind me
Before her house in quiet stance

8. Rückblick
Es brennt mir unter beiden Sohlen,
Tret' ich auch schon auf Eis und Schnee,
Ich möcht' nicht wieder Atem holen,
Bis ich nicht mehr die Türme seh'.
Hab' mich an jedem Stein gesto├čen,
So eilt' ich zu der Stadt hinaus;
Die Krähen warfen Bäll' und Schlo├čen
Auf meinen Hut von jedem Haus.
Wie anders hast du mich empfangen,
Du Stadt der Unbeständigkeit !
An deinen blanken Fenstern sangen
Die Lerch' und Nachtigall im Streit.
Die runden Lindenbäume blühten,
Die klaren Rinnen rauschten hell,
Und ach, zwei Mädchenaugen glühten.
- Da war's gescheh'n um dich, Gesell !
Kommt mir der Tag in die gedanken,
Möcht' ich noch einmal rückwärts seh'n.
Möcht' ich zurücke wieder wanken,
Vor ihrem Hause stille steh'n.

No comments:

Post a Comment