Täglich kommt die gelbe Sonne über den Hügel.
Schön ist der Wald, das dunkle Tier,
Der Mensch; Jäger oder Hirt.
Rötlich steigt im grünen Weiher der Fisch.
Unter dem runden Himmel
Fährt der Fischer leise im blauen Kahn.
Langsam reift die Traube, das Korn.
Wenn sich stille der Tag neigt,
Ist ein Gutes und Böses bereitet.
Wenn es Nacht wird,
Hebt der Wanderer leise die schweren Lider;
Sonne aus finsterer Schlucht bricht.
—By Georg Trakl
Wednesday performances are a chance for redemption after low-energy Tuesday outings, but it took two acts last night before that higher level of enthusiasm was reached, and for a while I felt my colleagues were just coasting, just getting by, perhaps tired, but still curiously unwilling to go out with a bang.
And then we all woke up.
Our sound cues were great; one of my lighting cues was a bit early/abrubt, but still good, I felt. A couple colleagues arrived from out of town. We broke the set afterward, and I rushed off to the bus so I could get home and prepare for guests.
Wine and food were consumed, music was enjoyed and at times mocked, and somehow we covered books and more academic subjects. Eventually my guests left—some went to a nearby bar for more booze, others just went home—, I cleaned up, and after a while I crawled into bed, exhausted.
In the amusing connections department, we have D and T, who both played police officers in the performance (T in the fourth act; earlier he had another role). I met D's (German) girlfriend and have since forgotten her name; D is a bit taller than I am, perhaps, and what's-her-name was a reasonable 5'10" or so. But T is seeing E, who is, let's say, 5'11" to what's-her-name's 5'10" (so, a bit taller than T), but then it made sense, since it turns out that E is D's sister.
After everyone arrived and conversation got underway, the most important points were wine, books, and cheesecake.
Wine: I introduced folks to the cheap wonders of Giant 47 Pound Rooster—the zin, that is. At $5.99 a bottle—buy an ad, BlueOregon!—you can't go wrong, and it breathes quite nicely. Give it thirty minutes. On the cheap front I had $2.50/bottle Tisdale shiraz—drinkable, but not likely something I'll buy much more of in the future.
No Two Buck Chuck, though.
T & D showed up, girlfriends in tow, and brought a couple extra bottles with them. D provided a J.W. Morris riesling that I never got around to; it was on the other side of the room most of the night. T brought a bottle of Conquista malbec. It held up well. A couple days ago I got a bottle of Trapiche malbec (both malbecs are from Argentina)—and it went over quite well. Very very dark red, both of them ... and quite tasty.
Books: It's simple, boring yet necessary iteration when I read a book that I like and pass it on to somebody else. And they pass it on. Word of mouth. One at a time. But it's slow growth, slow growing and slow going. So I prefer the exponential route, and all it requires me and others to do is to pass a good book on not to one but to, say, two people, and get them to do the same.
I'm beyond that now with House of Leaves, which I showed to a couple more people last night, T and E; while T was fascinated by it E actually excused herself from conversation to look at it for ten minutes.
One of the problems, perhaps, of being in my field is that it is not full of lots of genre fiction fans, sci-fi and fantasy in particular. I'm no longer particularly interested in epic and high fantasy, no matter how much friends from the LUG try to get me to read George R.R. Martin or Dennis McKiernan, etc., but I haven't abandoned the broader genre. E spoke up as someone who doesn't like sci-fi but liked Ender's Game after D found P. Pullman's His Dark Materials on one of my shelves and tried to get others to hear him out about them.
I was led to making the claim that what one should do is read Starship Troopers, Forever War, and Ender's Game together. All but the first spawned their own sequels, as all are aware, and so I'm not arguing that one should read any as sequels or prequels to the others in this brief list, but rather that although their actual points of focus vary, they all use rather similar (if perhaps superficial) sci-fi conventions.
There was a seminar this semester co/team-taught with the history department called War and Peace—I don't think the novel was part of the syllabus—and while they had their Kant and Clausewitz and and Ernst Bloch, any of those novels mentioned would have been a good addition. But that's just me.
In terms of my book reader propagation project (pass something on to at least two people), I eventually felt the need to pull both Arturo Perez Reverte's The Club Dumas off the shelf and, later, Beagle's The Last Unicorn. I've been meaning to re-read it (or is that re-re-read it? Etc.) for quite a while, but there are still so many other things in my TBR pile.
Cheesecake: The important thing about cheesecake is that it's not cake. It's a custard pie. Yesterday I mentioned making one. The one I made a while back was dense and rich ... and deep. Four packs of cream cheese. This one had only two packs (16oz.) as well as a cup of sour cream, about 4/5 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Add two eggs and two yolks, and about a tablespoon of vanilla. The key is low heat (250F, about 120C) and a water bath to ensure even heat(ing). Mine had no cracks. It was soft enough that after slicing it (16 slices—I thought of making only 12, but it is rich, after all) I kept it firm by way of frequent trips to the freezer over the course of the evening.
The important point is that it not only went over very well, but also that it was greeted with incredulous stares and the question, “You made this?” Followed by requests for seconds.
I like posting poems that I like and translations I can respect.
I do like this poem, but I can't say the same of the translation, which resembles a poem only insofar as it is split into four stanzas of three verses each.
The translators have put a copy of their translations online in a .doc file; either incompetence or completely bizarre notions of translation led them to post the first verse of the fourth stanza as “When the; night has come,” and I can only hope it is the former, for a semi-colon makes no sense there. I removed it. But perhaps Wright and Bly meant for it to be there, ruining the poem.While I admit that some syntactic inversion is probably necessary to render Trakl's German into acceptable English, the semantic and syntactic additions made by the translators have no motivation. In the first stanza they add “also,” several times but such a word is nowhere to be found in the original. “Also” links elements in a list in a particular order; Trakl's version is better rendered as “Beautiful is the forest, the dark animal / The man; hunter or herder.”
“Der Mensch” is problematic—it is not “the man.” It is either “the person/human” or it is “man” in general, yet Wright and Bly have turned it into a specific instance, a particular man. Trakl's lack of “also” or “and” lends a certain ambiguity, a possibility of filling in blanks and reading the verses a couple of different ways. Is “(the) man” of the third verse a continuation of the second verse? In Wright and Bly's translation that is clearly the case. Grammatically the forest, animal, and (hu)man are not linked, for the verb is in the singular, and the sentence does not read that the forest, the dark animal, and the man are beautiful. By reading “Der Mensch” and the third verse as separate, it is also possible to read the second verse as a short predication followed by an appositive: the forest—a.k.a. the dark animal—is beautiful.
There was no need for “Each day,” for “Daily“ would have worked and is a literal translation of “Täglich.” And why did they translate “Hirt” as “farmer“? “Hirt” is clearly, both etymologically and in current usage, “herder,” and the “herder” also indicates that the opposition to “hunter” is not that of the wanderer (hunter) to the landed (farmer) but between two approaches to dealing with the animals (of the forest). Farming and agriculture come forth only in the third stanza and should not make a surprise and early appearance here in the first.
In fact what we have through the first three stanzas, each of three verses, is a comment about the day, a comment about the natural world, and a comment about man(kind) and (especially in the first two) man's relationship to nature as represented in that stanza.
I'll skip the second stanza for now and leave the last as well, and now just turn briefly to the butchered third. Wright and Bly reverse the order of the grapes and grain, the add the useless “cluster of,” and as in the first stanza their change of word order makes the matter of verbs more complicated than necessary. In the first stanza they inappropriately made the verb plural; here their retained singular reads awkwardly. Because they do not combine (either via “and” or “also“) the grapes and the grain I can understand retaining the singular, but in their version of the verse the commas function as a parenthetical reference and as an appositive, which is to say, as the nonsensical “The grain—a.k.a. the cluster of grapes—ripens slowly.” I must admit that I know why they added “cluster”—“die Traube” is a singular that can be both a single grape as well as the collective “grapes” (in the sense of a bunch or cluster, organized, straight from the vine, not a bowl of picked grapes), and “cluster” removes all ambiguity.
And now I'll come to an end, not bothering to discuss why Trakl chose grapes and grain (both nourishment as well as sources of booze), how the translators simply unraveled Trakl's metaphor (“the day bows”) and replaced it with the boring “comes to an end,” or the pointlessness of turning “Lider” into “eyelids” rather than just “lids.”
Each day the gold sun comes over the hill.
The woods are beautiful, also the dark animals,
Also man; hunter or farmer.
The fish rises with a red body in the green pond.
Under the arch of heaven
The fisherman travels smoothly in his blue skiff.
The grain, the cluster of grapes, ripens slowly.
When the still day comes to an end,
Both evil and good have been prepared.
When the; night has come,
Easily the pilgrim lifts his heavy eyelids;
The sun breaks from gloomy ravines.
—Translated by James Wright and Robert Bly
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