Saturday, 6 July 2013

Rilke's Rose Poems In Translation, VII

Rose photo © Christina Kosaki, 2013.

Here is the latest of my translations from French of Rilke's Roses poems, VII, with the original as well. This one was a bit tricky.

(I have all sorts of other blog posts that I should be writing, but am finding it a bit difficult to collect my thoughts these days, plus I'm a little bit sick this weekend. Excuses, excuses. For some reason, translation seems ok.)

THE ROSES (Rainer Maria Rilke, translated from French by Clarissa Aykroyd)


Fresh clear rose, resting
upon my closed eye - ,
you'd think a thousand
eyelids lie

on mine that's warm.
A thousand slumbers press against
my mimic under which I roam
in a maze of sweet scents.



T'appuyant, fraîche claire
rose, contre mon oeil fermé - ,
on dirait mille paupières

contre la mienne chaude.
Mille sommeils contre ma feinte
sous laquelle je rôde
dans l'odorant labyrinthe.

Translation © Clarissa Aykroyd, 2013.


  1. In some respects I find your translation much more beautiful than Rilke's original. A purely subjective opinion, of course, but who can really understand the interrelationships among poems and how one can, in time and otherwise, prepare the way for another? It reminds me of the familiar business about the block of marble: lovely in itself, someone may eventually come along and draw something forth from it more lovely still. I think that's what you've done with Rilke. And I'm not sure where all this leads, either. Your translation may be laying the groundwork upon which yet another verbal structure may arise. Oddly enough, though, the kind of textual progression I am imagining here would seem to draw a person only more deeply into the original intention and source, rather than away from it. The mystery of translation is what comes to mind: what urges it into existence, and what is its ultimate end?

    1. You're too kind! (really!) Your thoughts about translation and the why? how? of it are interesting to me right now because a literary website asked me to write something for them (exciting!) and gave me a brief along the lines of "write anything vaguely literary-related"...and I think I would like to write about my thoughts on translation. I may end up quoting you...

  2. This is awesome. Seriously. I don't think I've ever seen Rilke's French verse translated this well. Many hats off. My one nit: "Odorante labyrinthe" as "maze of sweet scents" doesn't gel for me as "sweet scents" seems slightly mawkish. "Labyrinth of scents" would seem much more apposite.

    1. Thanks - coming from you, those comments and encouragement mean a great deal!

      I like your suggestion, too - and am now wondering why I didn't think of it myself! ;) (trying too hard, perhaps?) I think I'm going to try to do the whole cycle, and then do some further revision...