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Thread: [Misc] Non-English poetry

  1. #1
    Elephant Feirefiz's avatar
    Feb 2009

    Default [Misc] Non-English poetry

    Let's talk about non-English poetry. In order to make this thread a little more interesting for those who don't speak the language, we should post readings and translations whenever possible.

    There are a few German classics that I could post.
    I'll start with a favorite of mine.

    Quote Originally posted by Rainer Maria Rilke

    Der Panther

    The weary passage of these bars
    has made his gaze an empty stare:
    as if the bars were all there are
    and that behind them nothing's there.

    Strong and supple strides around
    and back to their beginning come.
    A swirling play of power surrounds
    a noble will that stands there numb.

    Just at times the curtain parts
    quietly inside his eyes.
    Along a nerve, awareness darts—
    arriving in his heart, it dies.
    Of course all languages are welcome.

  2. #2
    Elephant Feirefiz's avatar
    Feb 2009


    An even bigger classic:

    Quote Originally posted by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Erl King

    Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
    The father it is, with his infant so dear;
    He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,
    He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

    "My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"
    "Look, father, the Erl King is close by our side!
    Dost see not the Erl King, with crown and with train?"
    "My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."

    "Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
    For many a game I will play there with thee;
    On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
    My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."

    "My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
    The words that the Erl King now breathes in mine ear?"
    "Be calm, dearest child, thy fancy deceives;
    the wind is sighing through withering leaves."

    "Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
    My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care
    My daughters by night on the dance floor you lead,
    They'll cradle and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."

    "My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
    How the Erl King is showing his daughters to me?"
    "My darling, my darling, I see it aright,
    'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."

    "I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!
    And if thou aren't willing, then force I'll employ."
    "My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
    For sorely the Erl King has hurt me at last."

    The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
    He holds in his arms the shuddering child;
    He reaches his farmstead with toil and with dread,—
    The child in his arms he finds motionless, dead.

  3. #3
    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
    Mar 2009


    PEU DE CEOSE by Montenaeken

    La vie est vaine,
    Un peu d’amour,
    Un peu de haine,
    Et puis—Bonjour!

    La vie est brève:
    Un peu d’espoir,
    Un peu de rève
    Et puis—Bon soir!

    In English:

    Ah, brief is Life,
    Love’s short sweet way,
    With dreamings rife,
    And then—Good-day!

    And Life is vain—
    Hope’s vague delight,
    Grief’s transient pain,
    And then—Good-night.

    (Translated by Louise Chandler Moulton)

    I prefer the French version.

  4. #4
    The Queen Zuul's avatar
    Mar 2009


    Oh, I love Der Erlkönig! That was the first poem I thought of when I saw this thread. This version is my favorite interpretation:

    I used to listen to that particular recording almost every day when I was in school. Yes, I was a strange teenager.

  5. #5
    Elephant Feirefiz's avatar
    Feb 2009


    Again Goethe, this time young and angry.

    Quote Originally posted by J. W. von Goethe


    Shroud your heaven, Zeus,
    With cloudy vapours,
    And do as you will, like the boy
    That knocks the heads off thistles,
    With oak-trees and mountain-tops;
    Now you must leave alone
    My Earth for Me,
    And my hut, which you did not build,
    And my hearth,
    The glowing whereof
    You envy me.

    I know of nothing poorer
    Under the sun, than you, you Gods!
    Your majesty
    Is barely nourished
    By sacrificial offerings
    And prayerful exhalations,
    And should starve
    Were children and beggars not
    Fools full of Hope.

    When I was a child,
    And did not know the in or out,
    I turned my wandering eyes toward
    The sun, as if, beyond, there were
    An ear to hear my lament,
    A heart, like mine,
    To be moved to pity for the afflicted.

    Who helped me
    Against the pride of the Titans?
    Who delivered me from Death,
    From Slavery?
    Did you not accomplish it all yourself,
    My holy, burning Heart?
    And shone, young and good,
    Deceived, your thanks for salvation
    To the sleeping one above?

    Should I honour you? Why?
    Have you softened the sufferings,
    Ever, of the burdened?
    Have you stilled the tears,
    Ever, of the anguished?
    Was I not forged as a Man
    By almighty Time
    And eternal Fate,
    My masters and thine?

    Do you somehow imagine
    That I should hate Life,
    Flee to the desert,
    Because not every
    Flowering dream should bloom?

    Here I sit, I form humans
    After my own image;
    A race, to be like me,
    To sorrow, to weep,
    To enjoy and delight itself,
    And to heed you not at all –
    Like Me!

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