Wednesday, 30 April 2014
Rilke's French Rose Poems In Translation: XII
John William Waterhouse, Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, 1909.
It is once again ages since I posted any translations of Rilke's Roses poems from the French, but I do mean to get back to them now. I have every intention of translating the whole cycle (please remind me that I said this.)
That said, I found XII particularly challenging. I really messed around with the line breaks and the number of lines - the latter, at least, is something I try not to do much. But this was the only way I could get it to work, somehow. This poem seems to contrast with many of the other poems in the cycle - it has a rather harsh and blunt tone, and sprawls down the page awkwardly (though probably deliberately). So I hope I haven't wreaked too much havoc.
As usual, I have included the French original after the English translation. And I'm very open to comments and suggestions. Part of the master plan is to revise these all at some point.
THE ROSES (Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Clarissa Aykroyd)
Rose, who are you fighting
with those thorns?
Did your fragile joy force
this change to a hostile thing?
Against whom does this weapon guard you?
How many enemies have I warned away
who feared it not at all?
Instead, through summer and autumn days,
you harm the hand that helps you.
LES ROSES (Rainer Maria Rilke)
Contre qui, rose,
Votre joie trop fine
vous a-t-elle forcée
de devenir cette chose
Mais de qui vous protège
cette arme exagérée?
Combien d'ennemis vous ai-je
qui ne la craignaient point.
Au contraire, d'été en automne,
vous blessez les soins
qu'on vous donne.
Translation © Clarissa Aykroyd, 2014.