“Spätherbst in Venedig”
Nun treibt die Stadt schon nicht mehr wie ein Köder,
der alle aufgetauchten Tage fängt.
Die gläsernen Paläste klingen spröder
an deinem Blick. Und aus den Gärten hängt
der Sommer wie ein Haufen Marionetten
kopfüber, müde, umgebracht.
Aber vom Grund aus alten Waldskeleten
steigt Willen auf: als sollte über Nacht
der General des Meeres die Galeeren
verdoppeln in dem wachen Arsenal,
um schon die nächste Morgenluft zu teeren
mit einer Flotte, welche ruderschlagend
sich drängt und jäh, mit allen Flaggen tagend,
den großen Wind hat, strahlend und fatal.
—By Rainer Marie Rilke
I'm of two minds regarding Leishman's translation, for on the one hand it captures some of the great words Rilke uses—and just read it aloud, savoring the verse-concluding syllables and rhymes, where even mundane dangles and tangles become sensory experiences—, but what Rilke does better than perhaps any other German Poet (since Goethe?) is pick the right words, even making the everyday somehow poignant, and at the same time make it seem effortless, unpracticed, as if a natural act of speech.
The same cannot be claimed of Leishman's mannered adaptation. “Upcatching”? “Oaringly”? Leishman turns 20th-century Rilke into a Baroque voice. But that other thing the translator does well here is keep important formal elements, such as Rilke's extensive enjambments, his tendency to break verses and continue beyond that last foot to the next verse or, more importantly, to the next stanza. And as this is a sonnet, he completes that Rilkian trick of crossing from the 8th to 9th verse, from the eight to the six as if they were one structure, not a building composed of iambic bricks and white-space mortar. But if Rilke's stanzas were rock or stone or other building material, they might indeed be bricks, with their porous texture, the words and rhymes and breaths those pits and grain you only notice up close—not some sort of swirling and streaked smooth marble facade.
And now a word from our non-sponsors:
- Pesto (recipe courtesy of Mario Batali)
- The Secret in the Old Attic (very Nancy Drew oriented, but contains the word “pirateology”)
- ‘O.J. Simpsons’ parody earns Fox's ire (they disappeared rather quickly from broadcaster.com this afternoon, but were also to be found on YouTube; which reminds me—is a video-sharing site for animal ‘lovers’ ZooTube or EweTube?)
- The Greatest Mystery: Making a Best Seller (I admit it, I love book stories; the interesting tidbit here was the renaming of the book in question from Cipher to Prep)
That's why I bought some raisins this evening.
I attended my “office hours” today so students could stop by and pick up exams and essays that I had graded. My back was killing me and still is, even a couple Advils later. More like anvils—if only it were those Tiny Toons, I think, performing the Anvil Chorus (Coro di zingari or gypsy chorus)—but I walked around the department when necessary, a bit hunched over. I knew I needed to stand up straight, but my lower back wouldn't let me. A bit like a leg cramp, where you know you need to stretch the limb, but the pain says, “just bend and contract a little more and I'll go away.”
So about noon I headed to State Street and to my “second office,” Fair Trade, where other TAs and instructors had set up their own finals week ersatz-offices, and throughout the afternoon student after student arrived to discuss papers and exams with their discussion section leaders. Most TAs only do discussion sections, but over in the languages we teach the whole course; the same is true for those of us who are lecturers, and so many students mistake us for professors, as is evidenced by the emails and homework assignments I receive.
When my most mediocre students show up to collect graded assignments and then thank me I wonder to what extent it's reflex and to what extent it's a calculated effort to get on my good side after the fact and attempt to get a better grade. With most of them I don't even let the possibility of it being sincere enter the picture.
I made the pleasant discovery that a refill on the iced coffee was only $1 ... in the future: more refills!
“Late Autumn in Venice” (1908)
The city drifts no longer like a bait now,
upcatching all the days as they emerge.
Brittlier the glassy palaces vibrate now
beneath your gaze. And from each garden verge
the summer like a bunch of puppets dangles,
headforemost, weary, made away.
Out of the ground, though, from dead forest tangles
volition mounts: as though before the next day
the sea-commander must have rigged and ready
the galleys in the sleepless Arsenal,
and earliest morning air be tarred already
by an armada, oaringly outpressing,
and suddenly, with flare of flags, possessing
the great wind, radiant and invincible.
—Translated by J.B. Leishman
|< intention diary reading animals | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >|