11 December, 2006

Gedichte: I

Wenn du an meinem Herzen liegst,
So eng und weich und warm,
An meine Brust dein Kaeppchen schmiegst,
Vergeht mir Leid und Harm.—

Durchs Fenster scheint des Mondes Strahl,
Der laechelt mild herein;
Weisst noch? Als uns zum ersten Mal
Vereinigt sah sein Schein?

Und wenn ich ihn seitdem erblick'
Gruess' ich ihn still vertraut;
Er war's, der unser junges Glueck
Zu allererst geschaut!—

When upon my heart you rest
So close and soft and warm,
Nestle ridinghood against my breast,
Shrug off all bale and harm.

From the window comes the shine
Of moonrays mildly smiling and sublime—
Remember, how his gaze, benign,
United saw us, once upon a time?

And when I've seen him since, in tryst,
I greet him trusting, quiet in thought—
It was his glance, his light, that caught
Us first so young, in love, in bliss!

1 November 76


This is my first effort, an untitled lyric in a fairly legible hand. The original is not wonderful, and neither is my translation, but it's a start. I don't dislike the poem at all: the verse is calm and formal, romantic but not overdone. More interesting is the poem's tension between its gentle mood and the presence of the moon as a third party, almost voyeuristic—the moonlight 'saw' (sah) and 'looked upon' (geschaut) the lovers. [The following sentences, while false—see the comments—are still to be taken as if true. It's better that way, really.] The hint of darkness is compounded by the lover's Käppchen, which means a cap, and specifically the Catholic skull-cap also called a zucchetto or pileolus—but here it suggests something else, namely the story of Rotkäppchen or Red Riding Hood, hence my translation. The word vertraut, which connotes familiarity and trustedness, begins to suggest the trust of Rotkäppchen for her 'grandmother'. What big eyes you have! All the better to see you with.


Ralf Wokan said...

HI Conrad !!

Wonderful !

Please note:
it is not "Kaeppchen", it is "Koepfchen" (my "little head")

You say "Koepfchen" when you speak to your Baby ...

The world is missing such a tenderness !

in Perafita Portugal

Conrad H. Roth said...

I think 'strong misreading' is the key phrase here. Thanks for bursting my bubble, Ralf.

Raminagrobis said...

Absolutely: once more the bald gnome Error, like Red Riding Hood's wolf, skulks forth from his cave to feast upon the mighty dead. You must retain the misreading: 'ridinghood' as almost-adverb is particularly fine, I think.

Anonymous said...

"traduttore, traditore."

(Oh, somebody had to say it. Looking forward to more of your efforts with this!)

Conrad H. Roth said...

Don't worry, I'd never trade Ralf's sumpsimus for my mumpsimus.

Anonymous said...

I liked this poem a lot! I am puzzled by "weisst noch". What is the object of "wissen" here? You have supplied "ihn" (="den Mond") and translated "Know him yet?" This seems peculiar for two reasons. First, "know" as in "to know somebody" is usually "kennen", not "wissen". Second, "noch" in questions -- is it "yet" or "still"? I think "weisst noch" should be translated "do you still know" ie "do you remember"; its complement is the whole following phrase, "when his glow first saw us united".

Conrad H. Roth said...

Damn, you're quite right about wissen/kennen, for some reason that had completely slipped my mind. Thanks, I'll change it at once.

Well, well, this translation lark is really turning into a learning process.