Friday, 21 November 2014

My Translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's 'Song'

I translated this French poem by Rainer Maria Rilke some time ago. It isn't a very ambitious translation, but I found it to be such a beautiful poem that I didn't want to mess around with it too much - just be faithful to it (yes, I know it's a poem, not a relationship).

You can find the original French poem after the translation.

(For anyone who might wonder or care, I promise I'm going to get back to my translations of the Rose poems very soon.)

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

You, to whom I don't confide
my long wakeful nights,
You, who leave me so gently tired,
cradling me to sleep;
You, who hide your sleeplessness from me,
tell me, can we endure
this transcending thirst
without giving in?

Remember how lovers 
are startled by a lie
at the hour of confession.

You alone can enter my pure solitude.
You become all things; you are a murmur
or an airy scent.
Between my arms, the void streams with loss.
It never held you back, and it's surely by that grace
that I hold you forever.


Toi, à qui je ne confie pas
mes longues nuits sans repos,
Toi qui me rends si tendrement las,
me berçant comme un berceau;
Toi qui me caches tes insomnies,
dis, si nous supportions
cette soif qui nous magnifie,
sans abandon?

Car rappelle-toi les amants,
comme le mensonge les surprend
à l’heure des confessions.

Toi seule, tu fais partie de ma solitude pure.
Tu te transformes en tout: tu es ce murmure
ou ce parfum aérien.
Entre mes bras: quel abîme qui s’abreuve de pertes.
Ils ne t’ont point retenue, et c’est grâce à cela, certes,
qu'à jamais je te tiens.

Translation  © Clarissa Aykroyd, 2014


  1. Sorry I am slow to catch up on your blog, but I love this and I am looking forward to further translations of the rose poems!

    1. Thanks Christina, I love it too! I really need to get back to those Roses...if I just applied myself I could probably finish them off pretty soon... And I want to explore some more of his other French poems for translation.