My Illlustrated Travel Journal with Essays about Roman and Mediaeval History and some Geology

  Autumn Day

I got a spontanous urge to translate a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), probably because it's an autumn day outside. It is one of my favourites, one of those I know by heart. As usual, I went for closeness to the original rather than art in its own right; I wrote the translation without much polishing, following my emotions as I recited the poem to myself.

Autumn Day
(1902, from Das Buch der Bilder - The Book of Images)

Lord, it is time. This summer, it was great.
Now lay your shadow on the sundial hands,
And on the fields set free the gales.

Command the last fruits to fully ripen;
Give them two more days of south,
Urge them to perfection, and drive
Some last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Who has no house yet, will not build one now.
Who is alone now, will long remain alone,
Will stay awake, reading, writing letters,
And wand'ring in the alleys to and fro
Restless, when the leaves dance.

Here is the German original:


Herr, es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gieb ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

Junkerberg Cemetary, Göttingen

The golden sun is but a memory. Today it rains and the air smells ripe apples and mist.
Thank you. I love translations - I just wish my German pronunciation was better so I could get the full flavor in its original form. You could always podcast some of your translations... hint, hint. *g*
That's a beautiful poem - I can see why you love it!
Gabriele, thanks for this; it's lovely. (It's especially helpful to me, as I'm studying German these days, and learning songs and poems really comes in handy.)
"Now lay your shadow on the sundial hands,"

You gave me a beautiful image with that line alone, Gabriele.
Thank you.
Constance, I have no micro and I don't think I want to appear on YouTube.

Thank you, Lady D.

Jeff, check the Literatura section on my blogroll, there are links to some more poems I translated.

Bernita, I only translated the image into another language. Rilke came up with it. :)
Lovely poem.
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The Lost Fort is a travel journal and history blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, as well as some geology, illustrated with photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.
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Location: Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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