Rainer Maria Rilke

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)

About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer who specializes in history, technology, and human interest stories.
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One Response to Rainer Maria Rilke

  1. kvennarad says:

    Language is wine upon the lips and a square meal on the page.

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