Wishing all my blog readers this season’s greetings.
Quite unseasonally perhaps, here is an image of a gazelle – gazella dorcas – the kind of one Rilke is writing about in my translation below, with that ‘listening, alert’ look. The other extraordinary image that Rilke imcludes here is of the hind legs: ‘as if each shapely leg / were a shotgun, loaded with leap after leap’. This is one of the New Poems, written by Rilke under the influence of the sculptor, Auguste Rodin. Rilke learned from Rodin’s insistence on ‘looking’ closely at a subject, as well as his impressive work ethic!
Enchanted one: how could the harmony
of two chosen words ever match the rhyme
that comes and goes within you? The way
branch and lyre start from your brow like a sign
and every part of you is like a lover’s song,
the words falling tenderly as the rose
lets drop petals on one who does not read on,
but, shutting his eyes, lets the book close
to gaze at you: as if each shapely leg
were a shotgun, loaded with leap after leap,
undischarged, while your head tilts on your neck,
listening, alert: a girl who has ventured deep
into a wood, startled by sounds as she bathes,
the glint of forest pool on her upturned face.
This is one of five new translations which have just been posted at The Fortnightly Review. Click the link below to see the others – ‘Departure of the Prodigal Son’, ‘Pieta’, ‘God in the Middle Ages’ and ‘Saint Sebastian’.