Showing posts with label Rilke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rilke. Show all posts


Rainer Maria Rilke: Archaic Torso of Apollo

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We did not know his head of such unheard-of fame
wherein the orbéd eyes matured. Even so,
his torso, candelabrum-like, still is aglow,
and there his gazing, merely set low-flame,

persists and glitters. For otherwise the incurvation
of the chest could never so bedazzle you, nor indeed,
could from the loins’ soft turning a smile proceed
to that midpoint which once bore procreation.

Otherwise this stone tortured and squat would stand
beneath the shoulders’ lucent sweep, and
would not shimmer like a coat of sable;

nor would it burst forth from all its margins, rife
with the light of stars: for there is not one site unable
to perceive you. You have to change your life.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Thomas Geydan. Translation copyright © 2008 by Thomas Geydan, published here with the translator’s kind permission.

Also in Thomas Geydan's translation: Spanish Dancer

An interesting link about translating Rilke ("Rilke translation has become an industry...")


Rainer Maria Rilke: Spanish Dancer

Spanish Dancer

As a struck match, before becoming flame, white
flickering tongues in all directions sends,
so, bystanders looking on, unfolds her dance: bright,
hot and hurried, a circular rite,
pulsating with passion, and intense.

And suddenly it is fully aflare.

With just a glance she lights her hair,
and then, with daring art, turns her entire
dress into this flaming ball of fire,
from which, each like a startled snake,
her naked arms dart, rattling and awake.

Then, deeming too close the lambent heat,
she gathers all of if it together and flings it to her feet
with an imperious gesture, haughtily gazing.
There it lies on the floor, enraged and blazing,
and burning still, refusing to retire.
But, confident of victory, her smile assured and sweet,
she lifts her face as if in greeting to the fire,
and stamps it out with solid little feet.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Thomas Geydan, published here by kind permission of the translator. Copyright by Thomas Geydan.