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A German-English challenge...
Thread poster: AnnikaLight

AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:41
English to German
Aug 5, 2006

Hi ProZians,

I'm not sure if this post is appropriate for this forum, but still...

There is a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, which has been translated from German into English a few times, but I don't really like any of the existing English translations.

Those I've read either don't rhyme or don't use the correct rhythm/meter.

Would anyone want to have a go at an English translation? Just for fun?

I'd be curious to read your input

Thanks a lot,

Annika

_____


Ich lebe mein Leben in wachsenden Ringen,
die sich über die Dinge ziehn.
Ich werde den letzten vielleicht nicht vollbringen,
aber versuchen will ich ihn.

Ich kreise um Gott, um den uralten Turm,
und ich kreise jahrtausendelang;
und ich weiß noch nicht: bin ich ein Falke, ein Sturm
oder ein großer Gesang.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Aus "Das Stundenbuch", erschienen 1905



[Edited at 2006-08-05 18:28]


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:41
German to English
First stanza Aug 5, 2006

Here's a meagre attempt at the first stanza, Annika, and two versions I found online. In this case I changed the rhyme scheme to couplets.

I live my life in widening rings
that spread out over all things.
This last one I may not complete
but I shall not admit defeat.

Online versions

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

http://www.panhala.net/Archive/I_live_my_life.html


I live my life in evergrowing circles
Which extend over all things.
Maybe I will not complete the last one
But I will surely make the attempt.

I circle ’round God, ’round the ancient tower
And I circle for thousands of years.
And I do not yet know
Am I a falcon, a storm—or a great song.

http://www.nmcop.org/acceptance%20spring%202004.pdf


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AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:41
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
I like this :-) Aug 5, 2006

Hi Kim,

Thanks for your attempt - and not a meagre one at all! It's greatly appreciated.

I like your first stanza - especially the "I shall not admit defeat" part....

Annika


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:41
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Next challenge - An die Freude Aug 5, 2006

I too was impressed by Kim Metzger's sterling effort, but it does illustrate the sheer difficulty, if not impossibility, of translating poetry. What is so easily lost is exactly that -- the poetry, leaving just a chunk of prose behind. Too often it is verse to worse.

But let me issue a fresh challenge -- to translate Schiller's An die Freude (Ode to Joy). This has always struck me as just about the most untranslateable poem in all literature (though I am sure that other languages can provide highly competitive alternatives).

People are sometimes surprised that German -- never the most musical of languages -- can produce such wonderful lyric poetry with a remarkable economy of words, of which Schiller's poem is among the finest examples. Yet German literature has great poetic riches, most of which are lost in translation. Not surprising that Schiller's Ode is the official EU anthem - but can anyone improve on the English translations available?


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:41
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Freude or Freiheit? Aug 6, 2006

Peter Linton wrote:
But let me issue a fresh challenge -- to translate Schiller's An die Freude (Ode to Joy). This has always struck me as just about the most untranslateable poem in all literature (though I am sure that other languages can provide highly competitive alternatives).

Was it originally to joy (Freude) or was it to freedom (Freiheit)?
"Schiller was said to have conceived his poem under the title An die Freiheit— an "Ode to Freedom"--and to have changed it to the title and wording we know in order to avoid problems with the official censor's office."
I had already heard this theory some years ago and now I found the above quote here:
http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/index.cfm?fuseaction=composition&composition_id=2761
I suppose that even if the story is true, the poem was actually published as "Freude". I don't have the text, but it might be interesting to consider whether simply replacing "Freude" by "Freiheit" wherever it occurs in the poem produces an equally meaningful (or even a better) work.
Oliver


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:41
German to English
+ ...
Beethoven 9 - Last Movement - (Presto ma non serioso) Aug 6, 2006

Peter Linton wrote:

But let me issue a fresh challenge -- to translate Schiller's An die Freude (Ode to Joy). This has always struck me as just about the most untranslateable poem in all literature (though I am sure that other languages can provide highly competitive alternatives).

People are sometimes surprised that German -- never the most musical of languages -- can produce such wonderful lyric poetry with a remarkable economy of words, of which Schiller's poem is among the finest examples. Yet German literature has great poetic riches, most of which are lost in translation. Not surprising that Schiller's Ode is the official EU anthem - but can anyone improve on the English translations available?


Beethoven is said to have adapted Schiller's words a little.

One translation is to be found here: http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/beethoven_sym9.html

Despite being a "grumpy old man", I have always thought of the delicate intro of the final melody of Beethoven's choral symphony as being one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. I started an attempt to adapt the translation referenced above to give it a little "zing", but time was not on my side, as I have a stunningly inspiring manual to complete.

I therefore tender a more tongue-in-cheek version

(Best read/sung when listening to the music, which I was unable to find among my stack of vinyl)

Baritone intro:
Oh friends, not these tones!
Let us raise our voices in more
pleasing and more joyful sounds!

Choral:
Proz, thy holy spark of life
True daughter of Elysium
Fired with joy we enter into
This thine true and fine sanctum

Magic words from thee shall rejoin
All that Babel once did part
And mankind be reunited
By thine joyful linguist's heart

Who has ever known true friendship
Or has won a loving wife (1)
Those who can call many souls one
Join us in our joy of life

And if such souls be but two
They yet shall serve the common good
False friends banished unbelov'd with (2)
Tears from this our brotherhood

Wordsmiths all we drink with joy from
Powwows’ rich and fulsome breasts (3)
Like and unlike bear our badge
With Browniz glowing on our chests
Still a worm can feel contentment,
And the saint he stands ‘fore God!
And - St. Google – stands ‘fore God (4)

Boldly, out in cyberspace we
Steer our fine exacting course
Midst the splendour of our dicos
Heroes all in Kudoz’ race

Be embraced then, brother, sisters!
Be your questions sometimes reckless
Brethren, midst some fiery dispute
Answers are our precious necklace

Do you fall in worship, millions?
Do you know the FAQs?
Seek them in Proz’ firmament then
Brethren you’ll ne’er sing the blues.

1 Oh yes – I can think of some
2 A reference to cleaning up the KOG
3 Maybe not every time, but I can claim some experiences
4 If memory serves, then this and the previous line are sung twice. Two hits, so to speak.

Cheers
Chris




[Edited at 2006-08-06 14:32]


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AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:41
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Original question... Aug 6, 2006

Anyone out there who wants to tackle the original question?

Kim already did a great job with the first stanza!

Thanks,

Annika


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:41
German to English
+ ...
Back to the original topic... Aug 6, 2006

Disclaimer: This is my very first attempt at translating poetry, so don't laugh (too hard).

Rings

My life I live in rings a growin';
A knot around all things I'm tying.
May not reach all before I go,
I know I will die trying.

Circling 'round our God and Babel,
One thousand years - so very long.
Not sure yet, am I bird or gale,
Or am I but just a song?



Any comments and constructive criticism will be appreciated.

[Edited at 2006-08-06 15:58]


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Say it in broooken English ;-) Aug 6, 2006

I live my live in growing rings
expanding over any things,
the last one uncomplete may stay
but I will try it anyway.

I'm circling god, the ancient tower,
with a never ending power
wondering where I belong:
to falcons, storms or a great song.



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AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:41
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Poetry translators amongst us... Aug 8, 2006

Derek,

Thanks so much I like your version! And I didn't laugh at all...

I really like this:

Circling 'round our God and Babel,
One thousand years - so very long.
Not sure yet, am I bird or gale,
Or am I but just a song?

Harry,

I like your second stanza as well!!!

I'm circling god, the ancient tower,
with a never ending power
wondering where I belong:
to falcons, storms or a great song.

I think you two should add "poetry" to your subject areas!!

"KudoZ" to you,

Annika


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 00:41
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
I have yet to fire up my TRADOS Aug 9, 2006

Anyone out there who wants to tackle the original question?


Here's how far I haven gotten so far...

I live myself my life in increasing rings,
over the things ziehn.
I will not achieve the latter perhaps,
but to try I want him.

I circle around God, over the age-old tower,
and I circle thousands of years;
and I do not know yet:
I am a falcon, a storm
or a large singing.

(courtesy of Babelfish).

Am I overdoing it? Yeah, I guess it's slightly overdone. However, how can one even assume one can get Rilke across at a bat of an eye ... when the hundred years past and gazillions of poets have evidently bitten on granite.

smo


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AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:41
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Uh... Aug 9, 2006

Now what would we do without Babelfish !!!??

Vito, I was just hoping that there are lot of talented and gifted poetry translators "hanging out" on ProZ who don't mind trying the "unachievable"

[Edited at 2006-08-09 12:43]

Besides, what Kim, Derek, and Harry translated is indeed better than the previous translations... So, give us a few more years (or hundreds of 'em), and we'll get it right...

[Edited at 2006-08-09 13:02]


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 00:41
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
I still think the original is it Aug 9, 2006

and all the rest is much like telling how it is to face God. It's like ... there's only one Sixtine chappel right?

btw ... instead of translating ... why not rather read some more of RM Rilke? But not too much. My head and heart start to spin....

smo

[Edited at 2006-08-09 22:10]


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AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:41
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
You're right .... Aug 16, 2006

You're right, Vito.

Nothing beats the original....

Annika


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Margaret Marks
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:41
German to English
die Dinge Aug 20, 2006

is important to Rilke, and difficult. It is unfortunate that it rhymes so blatantly with rings in English.

I live my life in widening rings
that slowly encompass the things
I may not complete it, but I will attempt
the last of all the rings.

I orbit God, the ancient tower
many millenia long
not knowing yet: am I a falcon, a storm
or a mighty song.

I don't really like 'mighty', but it fits in the rhythm!

Margaret Marks

[Edited at 2006-08-20 08:20]


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