poetry translation

Able Muse, Print Edition, Winter 2021/2022 - Digital Edition (Subscriber Page)

 

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Read the Digital Edition - Number 29, Winter 2021/2022

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From Rerum vulgarium fragmenta

english translation

From Rerum vulgarium fragmenta

original Italian poem

Poem 22 of Rerum vulgarium fragmenta

A qualunque animale alberga in terra,
se non se alquanti ch’ ànno in odio il sole,
tempo da travagliare è quanto è ’l giorno;
ma poi che ’l ciel accende le sue stelle
qual torna a casa et qual s’annida in selva
per aver posa almeno infin a l’alba.

Et io, da che comincia la bella alba
a scuoter l’ombra intorno de la terra,
svegliando gli animali in ogni selva,
non ò mai triegua di sospir col sole;
poi quand’ io veggio fiammeggiar le stelle
vo lagrimando et disiando il giorno.

Quando la sera scaccia il chiaro giorno,
et le tenebre nostre altrui fanno alba,
miro pensoso le crudeli stelle
che m’ ànno fatto di sensibil terra,
et maledico il dì ch’ i’ vidi ’l sole
che mi fa in vista un uom nudrito in selva.

Non credo che pascesse mai per selva
sì aspra fera, o di notte o di giorno,
come costei ch’ i’ piango a l’ombra e al sole;
et non mi stanca primo sonno od alba,
ché ben ch’ i’ sia mortal corpo di terra
lo mio fermo desir vien da le stelle.

Prima ch’ i’ torni a voi, lucenti stelle,
o tomi giù ne l’amorosa selva,
lassando il corpo che fia trita terra,
vedess’ io in lei pietà, che ’n un sol giorno
può ristorar molt’ anni, e ’nanzi l’alba
puommi aricchir dal tramontar del sole.

Con lei foss’ io da che si parte il sole,
et non ci vedess’ altri che le stelle,
sol una notte, et mai non fosse l’alba,
et non se transformasse in verde selva
per uscirmi di braccia, come il giorno
ch’ Apollo la seguia qua giù per terra!

Ma io sarò sotterra in secca selva,
e ’l giorno andrà pien di minute stelle,
prima ch’ a sì dolce alba arrivi il sole.

     — Francesco Petrarca
            (Original Italian poem)

 

Lee Harlin Bahan

Lee Harlin Bahan is the author of two chapbooks of poetry, Migration Solo (Writers’ Center Press of Indianapolis, 1989) and Notes to Sing (Finishing Line Press, 2016), as well as two collections of translations of Petrarch’s sonnets, A Year of Mourning (Able Muse Press, 2017), named a special honoree for the 2016 Able Muse Book Award, and To Wrestle with the Angel: Sonnets from Petrarch’s “Chapbook” of 1337 (Finishing Line Press, 2018).

 

Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca)

Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374), commonly known as Petrarch in the English-speaking world, is the great Italian master whose work helped to create the Renaissance sonnet craze in England. He was a Franciscan tertiary, a scholar of the Classics, a friend to Decameron author Giovanni Boccaccio, and an immensely popular poet in his day. Despite his religious vows, he had two children out of wedlock, and is best known for sonnets professing intense love for a woman named Laura.

 

 

Able Muse, Print Edition, Winter 2020/2021 - Digital Edition (Subscriber Page)

 

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Read the Digital Edition - Number 28, Winter 2020/2021

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Imaginary Life History

english translation

Imaginary Life History

original German poem

“Imaginärer Lebenslauf”

Imaginärer Lebenslauf
  
  
Erst eine Kindheit, grenzenlos und ohne
Verzicht und Ziel. O unbewußte Lust.
Auf einmal Schrecken, Schranke, Schule, Frohne
und Absturz in Versuchung und Verlust.

Trotz. Der Gebogene wird selber Bieger
und rächt an anderen, daß er erlag.
Geliebt, gefürchtet, Retter, Ringer, Sieger
und Überwinder, Schlag auf Schlag.

Und dann allein im Weiten, Leichten, Kalten.
Doch tief in der errichteten Gestalt
ein Atemholen nach dem Ersten, Alten . . .

Da stürzte Gott aus seinem Hinterhalt.

 

     — Rainer Maria Rilke
           (Original German poem)

Imaginary Course of Life
  
  
First a childhood, limitless and without
renunciation and goal. O unconscious delight.
Suddenly, terror, limit, school, drudgery,
and the fall into temptation and loss.

Defiance. The bent child becomes himself the bender,
and revenges on others what he succumbed to.
Loved, dreaded, rescuer, wrestler, winner
and conqueror, blow on blow.

And then alone in vastness, light, cold.
But deep in the grown-up character,
a gasping for the first, the old [world]. . . .

Then God leapt out from his place of ambush.

 

     — Susan McLean
           (Literal translation of the original poem)

 

 

Susan McLean

Susan McLean has published two books of poetry, The Best Disguise (winner of the Richard Wilbur Award) and The Whetstone Misses the Knife (winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize). Her book of translations of Latin poems by Martial, Selected Epigrams, was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Translation Award. Her translations of Rilke have appeared in Subtropics, Measure, Transference, Think Journal, and elsewhere. She is professor emerita of English at Southwest Minnesota State University and lives in Iowa City, Iowa.

 

 

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