Atmen, du unsichtbares Gedicht!

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926)

From the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, a rather (obscure? bizarre? trippy?) poem I had to translate for one of my classes.

Rilke’s German is somewhat tricky at some spots. It’s not like translating the rather simple Müller (or even Goethe, who’s surprisingly easy to read and translate given his genius and erudition).

Don’t ask me what it means. Maybe someone else will be able to figure it out.

Atmen, du unsichtbares Gedicht !
Immerfort um das eigne
Sein rein eingetauschter Weltraum. Gegengewicht,
in dem ich mich rhythmisch ereigne.

Einzige Welle, deren
allmähliches Meer ich bin ;
sparsamstes du von allen möglichen Meeren, –

Wieviele von diesen Stellen der Räume waren schon
innen in mir. Manche Winde
sind wie mein Sohn.

Erkennst du mich, Luft, du, voll noch einst meiniger Orte ?
Du, einmal glatte Rinde,
Rundung und Blatt meiner Worte.

Breathing, you invisible poem!
Constantly about one’s own.
His pure, exchanged space. Counterweight,
in which I rhythmically fall into.

Singular wave, for which
I am an almighty ocean;
you, the thriftiest of all possible oceans,–

How many of these spots of space were
already inside of me. Some winds
are like my son.

Don’t you recognize me, air, as once being my place?
You, once a smooth bark,
a curve and leaf of my word.

1 thought on “Atmen, du unsichtbares Gedicht!

Comments are closed.