mjj (flemmings) wrote,

I used to be able to read German

You know who else (besides every classical Chinese poet in existence) writes rhymed verse that invariably gets translated as blank in English? Rilke, that's who. His stuff is just so resonant as free verse, with a few assonances and only one explicit rhyme:

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander along the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing

that it's a total surprise to read the original, strongly rhyming

Herr, es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

Does this sound like Housman or not? My German is next to nonexistent, so I can't say. But it seems people have tried to render him in rhyme (some examples are here, not to weary you with them) but hardly successfully to my mind. I mean, they may capture the German perfectly for all I know, but they don't work as poems for me.


Wells, The Death of the Necromancer
-- pleasant enough, entertaining enough, but Wells isn't my kind of writer. Her prose is never the burdensome slog that Robin Hobbs' is, but all it does is tell a story about people who were never really defined in my mind. I have the feeling that my preferred style is first person, the undeniable voice, or so close a third that the voice comes through, and this was... voiceless.

Ima, 100 Demons 26
-- reread, so now I can reread vol 27 with a better idea of what's going on. What's going on is that Ritsu's great-aunt seems to have her share of the Iijima powers, even if they only manifest after her death.

Reading now

Elkin, Flâneuse
-- subtitled 'Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London'. I read about her walking in Paris, which she loved- who wouldn't?- and then skipped to Tokyo, which she hated. So would I if I'd been living in the gaijin playground of Roppongi and Ark Hills, though the sizable apartments would have been nice. Still, Azabu and them are a hop skip and jump from the interesting shitamachi areas. Which may have changed too in the 25 years between when I was there and she was, and which might only interest someone with a prior interest in the place. Shall continue to see if she comes around, and what she makes of Vienna, which I found rebarbative on my one visit there.

Next up?
I have Hardinge's The Lie Tree in ebook (like Flâneuse) but need somethingportable for the backpack. Really should finish Seraphina and Inside a Pearl, but the weather switching back and forth between fall and spring makes it hard to settle on anything.
Tags: 100demons, japan, meme, place, reading_19, verse

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