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Goethe: Wanderer's Evening Song

Posted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 8:20 pm
by Gematria
Wayfarer's Evening Song
J.W. Goethe

Over every hilltop:
repose.
Every treetop
blows
barely a breath to you.
Birds in the woodland cease their song.
Wayfarer, wait. Erelong
You shall rest, too.


Wandrers Nachtlied

Über allen Gipfeln
ist Ruh’
in allen Wipfeln
spürest du
kaum einen Hauch.
Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.
Warte, nur balde
ruhest du auch.

Re: Goethe: Wanderer's Evening Song

Posted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 8:51 pm
by David
Ah, it's very nice to exercise the translation cells of the brain again. If I've still got any.

As an English thing, I think it works pretty well. It flows very nicely, and is not a million (or even a few) miles away from the sense of the original.

Putting on my pedant's hat - which I always keep close at hand - I have a few notes that you may or may not find useful (and which you've probably already considered and discarded in arriving at your translation) ...

I could do without the ugly colon at L1 - it would be nice to see Goethe's verb in there

Do treetops blow breaths at anyone?

I think "wood" (or "woods", perhaps) would (!) be a better and more effective translation than "woodland"

Not sure why you feel the need to introduce "Wayfarer"

"Erelong" ... a bit archaic?

If this sort of commentary is not really what you're looking for, just say so.

Cheers

David

Re: Goethe: Wanderer's Evening Song

Posted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:03 pm
by Gematria
Nah this is exactly the sort of commentary I'm looking for.

wayfarer was introduced because I thought it worked in English. "Just wait" didn't seem to have the associative ability of "Warte nur," in part because of the English idiom "Just you wait (and I'll get you)"

I tried to introduce Goethe's verb, but my noun was already twice as long as his, and "is repose" sounds a bit skewed in English. Or did you have another verb in mind?

As for erelong...hm. "Before long" I guess would work better?

Re: Goethe: Wanderer's Evening Song

Posted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:28 pm
by David
Gematria wrote:Nah this is exactly the sort of commentary I'm looking for.
Good-oh.
Gematria wrote:I tried to introduce Goethe's verb, but my noun was already twice as long as his, and "is repose" sounds a bit skewed in English. Or did you have another verb in mind?
No, "is" is what you need, but I think there's a "there" implied, even in the German, so how about "there is peace"?
Gematria wrote:wayfarer was introduced because I thought it worked in English. "Just wait" didn't seem to have the associative ability of "Warte nur," in part because of the English idiom "Just you wait (and I'll get you)"
Yes, I see what you mean. I still think "wayfarer" is a bit of an interloper. Maybe "Wait a while"? This, with its implication that there wouldn't be long to wait, would also pretty much capture the "balde", thereby removing the need for your "Erelong".

The way I see it, you could finish with

Wait a while,
and you will rest too.


That's got a plain-spoken simplicity that I rather like.

I must acknowledge that it's a lot easier for me to pick holes in your translation - which is good, anyway - than to do one from scratch myself. If I get some time, I'll give it a go. What? I dunno. I'll find something. Actually, I started a Goethe one a while ago - Froh empfind ich mich nun auf klassischem Boden begeistert. I might try to resurrect that.

Cheers

David

Re: Goethe: Wanderer's Evening Song

Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:53 pm
by Gematria
How's this then:

Over every hilltop
comes repose.
From every treetop
there blows
barely a breath toward you.
Birds in the woodland cease their song.
Wait, now. Before long
You will rest, too.

Re: Goethe: Wanderer's Evening Song

Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 7:05 pm
by David
Oh yes. I like that. I might go for "barely a breath to you" rather than "toward you", as it's a lot easier on the ear - on my ear, anyway, the first five lines flowing beautifully - but I think it's very good now.

Very singable as well, I think, which is another way of honouring the original.

Re: Goethe: Wanderer's Evening Song

Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:07 pm
by Lake
The revised is very nice.

Re: Goethe: Wanderer's Evening Song

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:19 am
by pseud
I'm impressed that you kept the rhyme so well. It reminds me of Longfellow's more "standard"/"famous" version:

O'er all the hill-tops
Is quiet now,
In all the tree-tops
Hearest thou
Hardly a breath;
The birds are asleep in the trees:
Wait; soon like these
Thou too shalt rest.


I think yours is superior in many respects, the greatest of which is: you actually keep the rhyme, strictly speaking rest and breath don't quite reflect Hauch and auch.

The only thing that struck me as odd about your rendition is the comma between Wait and now. I would personally remove it.

I remember doing this poem once as a class exercise but I never came up with anything I liked as much as your version.

Caleb