Reading all day, writing all day, and all I can think of is poetry. I’m missing my favorite copy of The Book of Hours. I can’t remember the translator so I can’t order the book. To console myself, I spent an hour tracking down translations of a particular poem.
Notice how the first translator rhymes the work, forcing on him, perhaps, a different word selection than the others. What do you think works best? Rhymed or unrhymed?
I Live My Life in Ever Widening Circles
by Rainer Maria Rilke
I live my life in circles that grow wide
And endlessly unroll,
I may not reach the last, but on I glide
Strong pinioned toward my goal.
About the old tower, dark against the sky,
The beat of my wings hums,
I circle about God, sweep far and high
On through milleniums.
Am I a bird that skims the clouds along,
Or am I a wild storm, or a great song?
Tr. Jessie Lamont
I live my life in ever widening circles, each superseding all the previous ones.
Perhaps I never shall succeed in reaching the final circle, but attempt I will.
I circle around God, the ancient tower, and have been circling for a thousand years,
and still I do not know: am I a falcon, a storm, or a continuing great song?
Tr. Albert Ernest Flemming
I live my life in widening circles that drift out over the things.
I may not achieve the very last, but it will be my aim.
I circle around God, around the age-old tower; I’ve been circling for millennia
and still I don’t know: am I a falcon, a storm, or a sovereign song?
Tr. Edward Snow
I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower. I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?
Tr. Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
I live my life in ever-widening circles
that stretch themselves out over all the things.
I won’t, perhaps, complete the last one,
but I intend on trying.
I circle around God, around the ancient tower,
and I circle for thousands of years;
and I don’t know, yet: am I a falcon, a storm,
or a mighty song.
Tr. fulicasenia http://lyricstranslate.com/en/translator/fulicasenia (external link)
Language is wine upon the lips and a square meal on the page.