Monday, November 01, 2010

Publication of a Nelly Leonie Sachs Translation

The website InTranslation has published another of my translations, a verse by German Jewish poet, Nelly Leonie Sachs:

As they had requested, I created a bio of her to go along with the verse, but have since come across a more detailed, and devastating, bio on Wikipedia:

I include the original German below -- the InTranslation site never seems interested in publishing the original -- if anyone wants to see how I distorted the original: I thought I could convey the metaphor of pupa-to-butterfly without directly using those words.

Since writing that bio, I have found out that when Sachs died of cancer on May 12, 1970, it was only a few days after her long-time correspondent, Paul Celan, committed suicide in Paris, and there is this eloquent remark she had written to Celan from her exile in Stockholm: "Between Paris and Stockholm is the meridian of pain and solace."

I did not realize I had chosen a verse and provided a title and last line that seem to echo her words when she received the 1965 Peace Prize of German Publishers: "Let us remember the victims and then let us walk together into the future to seek again a new beginning."

“Bereit sind alle Länder aufzustehen”

[“Ready are all lands to stand up”]

by Nellie Sachs

Bereit sind alle Länder aufzustehen

von der Landkarte.

Abzuschutteln ihre Sternenhaut

die blauen Bundel ihrer Meere

auf dem Rucken zu knupfen

ihre Berge mit den Feuerwurzeln

als Mutzen auf die rauchenden Haare zu setzen.

Bereit das letzte Schwermutgewicht

im Koffer zu tragen, diese Schmetterlingspuppe,

auf deren Flugel sie die Reise einmal

beenden werden.

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