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segunda-feira, dezembro 15, 2008
More on Rilke
Answer to Wolfgang Ritter (now in English in order to have a greater audience):
The themes in Rilke are very varied: the mirror, the unicorn, the doll, the death of a young woman, animism (all things are possessed with inner “life”), death evolving like a tumor inside us, the rose, etc. Everyone that has read Rilke with some depth can always find something very particular that has some kind of special meaning. The themes I mentioned above are more or less the ones that are commonly associated with Rilke. The one that speaks volumes to me is when he writes about the Rose. He has one poem that for me is one of the most beautiful that I’ve ever read.
What makes Rilke such a great poet? What is it that distinctly defines his craft? I don’t have the answer. What I do know is that Rilke is quite unique. When reading Rilke we look for something that he’s not elsewhere, but we know that we can find in his writings.
Rilke has a “special” language all of his own which seems to open another way of seeing und understanding the world. His nature is one that reflects upon life and art in a way that it’s quite distinctive. When I read Rilke I feel myself transported into another world. The way he perceives each object and the way he writes about it is something that permeates us. We feel somewhat different by reading his writing. How does he achieve this result of strangeness? I think it’s due to his way of constructing sentences, his word-ending inventiveness, the transformation of adverbs into adjectives and vice-versa, sometimes the use of adjectives as nouns. As anyone who has tried to produce some form of translation of his work, it’s quasi-impossible to achieve a result that it’s at least equivalent in terms of meaning to the original. The best is to read his work in the original, but even in the original sometimes it’s difficult do discern the true meaning of what he’s trying to convey. Sometimes there’s meaning within meaning, producing a Pandora-effect that it’s quite mesmerizing. That’s his technique to produce the other-worldly effect that I mentioned above.
I read a few months ago a bilingual work of the “The Sonnets to Orpheus” (“Os Sonetos a Orfeu” in Portuguese, “Die Sonette an Orpheus” in German) with a translation from German into Portuguese by José Miranda Justo. I quite appreciated his efforts. His solutions would not be necessarily mine, but who would claim to produce the perfect translation of a work by Rilke? Not me! Sometimes I was hugely surprised with the choosing of words. The Sonnets are written in a light, flowing, yet terribly condensed language of incredible musicality and verbal playfulness. An example (VIII, 1, pag. 26):
“Nur im Raum der Rühmung darf die Klage
gehn, die Nymphe des geweinten Quells,
wachend über unserm Nierderschlage,
das er klar sei an demselben Fels […]”
And the poetic translation (pag. 27):
“Só no espaço da celebração é permitido à queixa
entrar, a ninfa da fonte chorada,
Cuidando do nosso precipitarmo-nos,
Para que seja claro […]”
In Portuguese this construction sounds somewhat odd. My own would look something like this:
“Apenas no reino da celebração pode o lamento
funcionar, a ninfa da fonte que chora,
olhando pela nossa precipitação,
de modo a que seja claro na mesma pedra […]”
For those of you who read Portuguese the difference is clear cut. I’m not stating that my translation is better. It’s just different. I’ll let you be the judge of the merits of each translation. I wouldn’t dare translating this into English. Does anyone want to have a go…? I can post your efforts in my blog.
I’ll leave here the 8th sonnet in its full splendor:
Nur im Raum der Rühmung darf die Klage
gehn, die Nymphe des geweinten Quells,
wachend über unserm Niederschlage,
daß er klar sei an demselben Fels,
der die Tore trägt und die Altäre.
Sieh, um ihre stillen Schultern früht
das Gefühl, daß sie die jüngste wäre
unter den Geschwistern im Gemüt.
Jubel weiß, und Sehnsucht ist geständig,
nur die Klage lernt noch; mädchenhändig
zählt sie nächtelang das alte Schlimme.
Aber plötzlich, schräg und ungeübt,
hält sie doch ein Sternbild unsrer Stimme
in den Himmel, den ihr Hauch nicht trübt.
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