already here and there in the meadows

11:09 PM Posted by James Owens

A translation from Rilke's French, Autumn's Hammer,
in Language and Culture



Dianne said...

Yesm, O.K.ey dokey, I just added my Haiku at the same time as your Rilke. hmmm.... symbiosis, equilibrium, ah whatever!
Thanks for Rilke, I love it!

Roxana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roxana said...

your old love again, the French Rilke :-)
i don't know why, but again i like your English version much more than the original - perhaps it is something i have against rhyme in French, especially in such short lines which make the last syllable carrying the accent sound so heavy, so stressed. while in your poem the variations/repetitions of sounds are subtler and richer, the music flows better, without becoming too obvious.
i absolutely love:

Hammer, returning
from your height, burning
do you forge a tomb, great turning
aerial hammer?

this is pure genius :-)

i really have nothing to suggest - the only thing which i am not sure of is the succession summer-autumn "It glows,
a bit of summer
autumn forges" - which bothers me sometimes when i read it, but i think it might be also considered a very skillful trouvaille (and risky as all trouvailles are :-)

Sorlil said...

I really like the bit Roxana points out, and for the same reasons :)

James Owens said...

Dianne: Serendipitous happenstance, no?

James Owens said...


You prefer this version to the original? I can only smile shyly and be silent (glowing inside)….

But I know what you mean about rhyme in French. It is (and I think this is a secret the French try to hide from the rest of the world) not a very good language for poetry, overall, and the rhymes do thump heavily into their slots -- though not as mechanically in Rilke as in some others, I think -- he does at least ease up on the syllable-count. In translating, I find myself often searching for half-rhyme or mere assonance, even when full rhymes are available….

R’s French poems are not his best. If he had written only these, I think he would be forgotten today, a minor aesthete. And yet… I keep coming back, one doesn’t always get to chose … The best of them are quite good, nevertheless. Unfortunately (sigh), the best poems are not necessarily the ones I can translate.

James Owens said...

Sorlil: Thank you. I'm glad you like it! And it helps, knowing what works....