If Your Magic Spring

If your magic spring, Melusine,
had not the second ending of all fairytales
in heartache,
we would long ago have
passed into the petrified resurrection
of an Easter Island –

But when your Echo countenance,
strewn with the columbines of fatigue,
practises dying in the Sabbath gold,
our blood drinks remembrance
in a pre-existing
landscape
and in the lightly slumbering pre-birth
of the soul –

Deutsch: Julius Hübner 'Die schöne Melusine' 1844

Wenn nicht dein Brunnen

Wenn nicht dein Brunnen, Melusine,
aller Märchen zweiten Ausgang
im Herzeweh hätte,
längst wären wir
in die versteinerte Auferstehung
einer Osterinsel eingegangen −

Aber wenn dein Echoangesicht,
mit der Müdigkeiten Akelei bestreut,
Sterben übt im Sabbatgold,
trinkt unser Blut Erinnerung
in einer Landschaft,
die schon da gewesen,
und in der schlummerleichten Vorgeburt
der Seele −

Comment:

This very dense and difficult poem is analysed (in German) here by Doris Runge. The story of Melusine can be found here.

Translation challenges I have been unable to resolve:

-the ambiguity of the English word spring – but I still prefer it to source, fountain, well or any other equivalent to Brunnen. Hopefully, inserting the adjective  magic reduces the ambiguity without spoiling the overall feel.
– the ambiguity and the opposition of Ausgang / eingegangen, which I find impossible to reproduce in English.
– the weight of the plural in Müdigkeiten. Transferring the plural form to columbines is the coward’s way out. And I prefer  columbine to aquilegia because of the sound, in spite of associations in English that aren’t present in the German Akelei. 
– the onomatopoeic effects in the original poem.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s