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  #1  
Unread 11-14-2021, 07:21 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default Rilke, The Coat of Arms

The Coat of Arms
by Rainer Maria Rilke

The shield is like a mirror, which took in
soundlessly things carried from far off,
once open wide, then closing up again
over a reflection of

those beings dwelling in the family tree’s
wide space, no longer subject to dispute,
its entities, its actualities
(right on left and left on right),

which it acknowledges and tells and shows.
Atop it, lined with fame and darkness, rests
the barred-grille helmet of a tournament,

shortened, surmounted by the wingèd crest,
while mantling falls, as if with a lament,
cascading rich and fluttering below.

Revisions:
S1L3 "closing up" was "slamming shut"


Das Wappen

Wie ein Spiegel, der, von ferne tragend,
lautlos in sich aufnahm, ist der Schild;
offen einstens, dann zusammenschlagend
über einem Spiegelbild

jener Wesen, die in des Geschlechts
Weiten wohnen, nicht mehr zu bestreiten,
seiner Dinge, seiner Wirklichkeiten
(rechte links und linke rechts),

die er eingesteht und sagt und zeigt.
Drauf, mit Ruhm und Dunkel ausgeschlagen,
ruht der Spangenhelm, verkürzt,

den das Flügelkleinod übersteigt,
wahrend seine Decke, wie mit Klagen,
reich und aufgeregt herniederstürzt.


Literal translation:
The Coat of Arms

Like a mirror that, carrying from a distance,
soundlessly absorbed into itself is the shield;
open at one time, then slamming shut
over a mirror image

of those beings who inhabit the wide spaces
in the family line, no longer contested,
its things, its realities
(right on left, left on right),

which it acknowledges and says and displays.
Atop it, lined with fame and darkness,
rests the barred helmet, shortened,

which the winged crest surmounts,
while its mantling, as if with lamentation,
falls below it, rich and fluttering.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 11-20-2021 at 11:22 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 11-14-2021, 08:25 AM
Allen Tice's Avatar
Allen Tice Allen Tice is online now
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Oh yes, I do like your version with it’s subtle rhymes! This is a Rilke that is “safe for work” and that I can read. Expertly done. No nits.
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  #3  
Unread 11-14-2021, 01:51 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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It's good to hear your reactions, Allen. This was one of the most difficult of all of Rilke's poems for me to translate. The technical language from heraldry was very hard to follow, so I had to do a lot of research to make any sense of it.

Susan
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Unread 11-19-2021, 10:33 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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[Dupe].............

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 11-19-2021 at 10:35 PM.
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Unread 11-19-2021, 10:34 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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This crest might or might not be relevant to this poem, given the vagueness of what the "beings" are, and the presence of two helmets.

But Rilke was familiar with this particular image of a Rilke coat of arms, having used it as a frontispiece, even if those Rilkes seem to be no relation to him. And the mirrored greyhounds are on the coat of arms on Rilke's gravestone, too, which shows only one helmet, as in the poem.

The mirror in the poem might simply refer to generations past and future, though.

One of many things that confuse me about the poem is that the shield seems to be being described more as a book than as a mirror, even though the word Spiegel appears twice in that first stanza.

I wish "soundlessly" had a better place to be. It seems awkwardly wedged in between the verb and the object of the verb.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 11-19-2021 at 11:24 PM.
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Unread 11-20-2021, 11:29 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Julie, I have taken your suggestion about making the mirror/shield sound less like a book. I can't figure out anywhere else to put "soundlessly," but I will keep thinking about it. I don't think Rilke is referring to what he considered his own familial coat of arms, mainly because of the detail of the "winged crest," which implies a bird or birds instead of dogs atop the helmet. This may be a tribute to one of many noble families that acted as Rilke's patrons. With the mirror/shield, I think he is saying that the coat of arms reflects actual people of a long time ago, but does not continue to reflect what is around it.

Susan
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