Friday, April 8, 2016

Du im Voraus -- Rilke translation

By Tracy

This poem is already well-known in English translation, so I am adding my version to the many. It reminds me in some ways of Emily Dickinson's "A Loss of Something Ever Felt I", which David Musselwhite once said to me was the ultimate "lost object" poem.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Du im Voraus

You, my beloved lost in advance, my never-appeared,
I don’t know which notes you prefer.
I no longer try, when what’s coming billows over me,
to recognise you. All the great
images in me, scenery learned at a distance:
towns and spires and bridges and un-
suspected turns in the roads
and the immensity of those countries
once traversed by gods:
grows to its meaning in me,
your meaning, elusive one.

Oh, the gardens you are,
oh, I saw them with such
hope. An open window
in a country house — and you nearly
stepped toward me, thoughtful. Alleys I found —
you had just gone along them,
and sometimes the shopkeepers’ mirrors
were still dizzy with you, and gave out, afraid,
my too-sudden image. — Who knows if the same
bird did not ring out through us
yesterday, separately, in the evening?

                                                    trans. Tracy Ryan

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