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Showing posts from March, 2013

Hölderlin: Hälfte des Lebens

Another Hölderlin version  . . .There are many versions of this poem in English, but my favourite translation is Kathleen Jamie's Scots version.



Hälfte des Lebens

Mit gelben Birnen hänget
Und voll mit wilden Rosen
Das Land in den See,
Ihr holden Schwäne,
Und trunken von Küssen
Tunkt ihr das Haupt
Ins heilignüchterne Wasser.


Weh mir, wo nehm’ ich, wenn
Es Winter ist, die Blumen, und wo
Den Sonnenschein,
Und Schatten der Erde?
Die Mauern stehn
Sprachlos und kalt, im Winde
Klirren die Fahnen.

Midlife

Yellow with pears
Heavy with wild roses
The land hangs in the lake
Magnificent swans
Drunk with kisses
You dip your heads
In the holy sober water

Where will I find
Flowers this winter
And where will I find
The sunshine and shade
of the earth? Speechless and cold
The walls stand, and the weathercocks
Rattle in the wind

In lovely blue

'In lieblicher Bläue…’

(After Hölderlin)

In lovely blue
the steeple flowers
the swallows cry around it
and pouring
                heartstopping blue

The metal roof
glints in the sun
and the weathercock
struts and crows in his
high silence

As in a still life
everything holds its shape
every edge
sharpens in the light

A man comes down the steps
under the clock
wearing the hour
like a sculpted coat
and the windows of the bell tower
are like gates on miracles
so close still
to the forest, and pure

The mind swings on difference
and is made serious
so simple all of this, so sacred
we would have to be saints
to describe it
or know such kindliness
to draw near


Is God unknown
or clear as the sky?
He must be clear
and this our measure
to live with our clutter
still lightly, like poets
on the earth
 doch dichterisch
           wohnet der Mensch auf dieser Erde


The dark night
templed with stars
after all
 if I can say it like this the
no purer than man
made in His image


Is there a measure on earth?
There’s none.
For never the creator res…