Thursday, 1 May 2014

Rilke's French Rose Poems In Translation: XIII

Photo by Clyde Robinson. Used under Creative Commons license

In an attempt to keep the momentum going, here's my translation of XIII from Rilke's Les Roses/The Roses, followed by the original. I found this more straightforward than XII, but a little bit elusive.

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


Do you prefer, rose, to be the ardent companion
of our present raptures?
Or does remembrance take the upper hand,
when some happiness returns?

I have seen you so often, brittle and content,
- each petal a shroud -
in a fragrant casket, beside a candle...
or when reading alone, in leaves of a book well-loved.

LES ROSES (Rainer Maria Rilke)


Préfères-tu, rose, être l'ardente compagne
de nos transports présents?
Est-ce le souvenir qui davantage te gagne
lorsqu'un bonheur se reprend?

Tant de fois je t'ai vue, heureuse et sèche,
- chaque pétale un linceul -
dans un coffret odorant, à té d'une mèche,
ou dans un livre aimé qu'on relira seul.

Translation © Clarissa Aykroyd, 2014.

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