22 April 2006

A new and different same

For some reason, I've been taken in by Spanish translations of Rilke in a vastly different way from the English versions of the poetry I've read. This 2000 edition of Poemas a la noche (Gedichte an die Nacht), translated by Jaime Ferreiro Alemparte, has kept me cornered for two weeks already. (And since books here are due every week, I'll probably be renewing it for a second time.) I cannot pinpoint the reason why this parallel translation (with the original German) has captivated me so. Encountering Rilke in Spanish has been an altogether different experience from sitting with him in English. I read and reread his lines with an ineffable sense of some poignant, ethereal beauty I'd missed:

Mas ahora será el ángel quien beba
así espaciosamente de mis rasgos
vino clarificado de los rostros.
Sediento, ¿quién desde aquí te hizo señas?

Ardes de sed, aunque la catarata
de Dios se precipita por tus venas.
¡Y que tú sigas aún sediento! Entrégate
a la sed. (Cómo has hecho presa en mí.)

Y fluyendo siento cuán seca estaba
tu mirada, y estoy tan inclinado
sobre tu sangre que mis ondas cubren
la alta, la pura orilla de tus cejas.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Even more curiously, I cannot find an English version of this volume. The preface alludes to the fact that these poems were written around the time of a cycle of the Duino Elegies (1913-14), but I need to search more to find out if these particular poems (partially inspired by his trip to Spain and the writings of St. John of the Cross) are included with other works in an English volume. It's a pleasant little mystery to be confronted with.

No comments: