If someone rises from the rocks
wielding the sun disk against the foe
when the rootless trickling riddles of tears
foretell for these eyes only
then are let loose
the lionesses of tormented hearts
to devour the mark of Cain
until the wounds wittingly
flow in the brother’s blood
Steigt einer aus den Steinen
die Sonnenscheibe dem Feind vorhaltend
wenn die wurzellos rinnenden Rätsel der Tränen
unter vier Augen wahrsagen
die Löwinnen der Herzensqualen
zu verschlingen die Kainszeichen
bis die Wunden wissend
im Bruderblut fliessen
It’s been a long time since I added to these translations, but as I now have some followers, I feel duty bound to reward their fidelity with new contributions. Thank you for your interest.
My original aim was to post 100 poems in translation here. Then a few more came along. Now I have acquired a copy of “Teile dich Nacht – die letzten Gedichte” and inspiration has returned, along with the courage to try to meet the challenges that Nelly Sachs’ poems always pose.
The assonance and alliteration of the original isn’t too hard to imitate in English, but the condensed syntax and the profundity of her imagery often evades capture – at least by me. Translation is a filter. I have tried to give her a voice in my language.