"Nächtlicher Gang" - Need English translation/inte

Von den frühen Prager Gedichten über Cornet, Neue Gedichte, Sonette und Elegien bis zum lyrischen Grabspruch

Moderatoren: Thilo, stilz

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Beitrag von Volker » 3. Dez 2004, 19:30

Hi Linda,
just a quick hello and let me tell you that your translation of the Faust-citation is excellent! Congratulations! Du hast es erfasst.
Ich hab' auch Verstand.©
gez. Volker

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Beitrag von Rilke Fan » 3. Dez 2004, 22:17

Thanks, Volker. Goethe seems to be a little bit easier to both understand and translate. I think Rilke liked to play with words more and to keep you guessing as to what he was trying to say. I lkind of like that, but it sure can be frustrating at times.

Viele Grüße!


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Beitrag von stilz » 3. Dez 2004, 23:23


NICHTS ist vergleichbar. Denn was ist nicht ganz
mit sich allein und was je auszusagen;
wir nennen nichts, wir dürfen nur ertragen
und uns verständigen, daß da ein Glanz
und dort ein Blick vielleicht uns so gestreift
als wäre grade das darin gelebt
was unser Leben ist. Wer widerstrebt
dem wird nicht Welt. Und wer zuviel begreift
dem geht das Ewige vorbei. Zuweilen
in solchen großen Nächten sind wir wie
außer Gefahr, in gleichen leichten Teilen
den Sternen ausgeteilt. Wie drängen sie.

Hi Linda,
Hallo Volker,
and everybody else…

als wäre grade das darin gelebt was unser Leben ist.

as if precisely that were lived in it that is (the essence of) our life.

I think I really understand this, so here are some further comments:

in it” , meaning the thing of which we are at times allowed to catch a glimpse:
I’m pretty sure that this is referring to a “likeness” we sometimes are allowed to “erahnen” in another human being.
Therefore the “Blick”, which is really a glance of another person’s eyes, and even “Glanz” could refer to the eyes (but there I’m not that sure).
And as it is not always the “sparkling” eye that reveals the essence of a life, I look for a word with a calmer feeling to it, such as “glow” or “gleam”.

So “that” doesn’t mean somebody or something, but a certain quality of life, or what one could make of one’s life… I think that’s why it is passive in German, so as not to suggest any special living being, but that what his/her life could be, or what we can believe our life to be.

And whenever we seem to discover a “likeness” between us and another human being, that seems to make it possible to really compare, and to be able “auszusagen” - in spite of the “NAUGHT is comparable”.
That’s why I think Rilke said “wir dürfen… uns verständigen” --- but after this „Blick“ is over, we cannot be sure. That’s what I feel is the meaning of this conjunctivus “als wäre … gelebt” --- and also the “vielleicht” in the line above.

And then “Dem wird nicht Welt”:

First I want to say it is a very unusal expression in German as well, of course you normally would expect to have an article. But Rilke here doesn’t use “world” in any “normal” sense.
I’m not any more sure about „world’s revelation“ (even though I like it very much!).
If I’m on the right track with my interpetation of the former lines, could “Wer widerstrebt dem wird nicht Welt” mean:
Who wants to resist another person’s “openness”, who is not ready to discover “likenesses” between others and him/herself, who shuts him/herself up to a fellow human being, who doesn’t want to exchange glances ---
he/she won’t really “have world”, meaning love or friendship or anything that needs real connection to others. ???

It is a very strange feeling to really have tried to interprete Rilke’s words, I never did anything like that before.

And now I’m very curious --- and a bit nervous! --- what you all will say to that!

Liebe Grüße


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Beitrag von Rilke Fan » 5. Dez 2004, 06:40

Hi Ingrid,

Just a note to say that I really liked your comments. Unfortunately, I have a very busy schedule the next couple of days, and I don't have much time. But I know how anxious I always am to hear back from someone after I post comments, so I thought I'd try to jot down at least a few of my thoughts and let you know that I am still thinking about what you wrote.

I like your translation of "als wäre grade das darin gelebt was unser Leben ist - "as if precisely that were lived in it that is (the essence of) our life," and after reading your posting a couple of times, I think I am beginning to understand what you are saying, especially the part where you said:

"but after this „Blick“ is over, we cannot be sure."

That set me to thinking that Rilke was saying that we must come to understand that we may only have a very short Glanz or Blick here and there (every now and then), like when a ray of sunshine reflects off of something and causes it to shine or sparkle, but it is only a very quick flash (like in the blink of an eye), lasting only a few seconds, and then it is gone -- but during that time we suddenly catch a of glimpse of something. I'm still not sure exactly what that something is though -- this something which is the same as the essence of our life - the same life that lives within us. What is the essence of our life? What does that really mean if you stop and think about it? Is it different things for different people?

Whatever this essence of life may be, if we try to resist this short glimpse into life, we will miss the world or we will miss out on living life to its fullest (dem wird nicht Welt). On the otherhand, if we spend too much time thinking about it (what life is all about or what the true meaning of life is?), we will fail to see the importance of the eternal things. It's not completely clear to me what eternal things he has in mind here.

I think I still need a little more time to think about this all now that I pretty much understand the translation. Until now, I have been so busy with the translation, that I haven't yet had much time to think about the interpretation, whereas the rest of you, because you understood the words in German, could right away think about both the translation and the interpretation. In other words, I am one step behind the rest of you!!

I'm not sure about the "likeness" referring to a person. It seemed to me that he was speaking of things rather than people, but perhaps I haven't looked deep enough yet. Perhaps when I have time to think about this all more, I will see what you are saying more clearly. I'm sure I will have more thoughts about this later. Until then......

Liebe Grüße!


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Beitrag von Paula » 6. Dez 2004, 17:03


Paula, I am compiling a list of my favorite Rilke poems concerning the stars and night, along with what he says about them, which I will share very soon. And I am sure we will find poems in this list that we will want to discuss (and translate)!
I am very interested to see the list , Linda :lol: ! I would like to try to translate and discuss poems. In the moment I am still working about Rilkes "Malte" ... :roll:

See you soon (online),
Paula :lol:

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Beitrag von Rilke Fan » 6. Dez 2004, 21:21

Hi Paula,

I will post the list of Rilke poems about the night and stars as a new posting. However, it has turned out to be a much larger project than I had anticipated, so it may be a while before I have time to finish it. :roll:

Viele Grüße!



Neuer Versuch

Beitrag von RilkeFan » 30. Jan 2005, 18:01

Hiermit wage ich eine Neuinterpretation zur Translation des gewünschten Textes:

Anything is not comparable. Because to state which is not completely with itself alone and which ever; we do not call anything, we may only bear and us inform the fact that there a gloss and there a view perhaps us so touched as if would be degrees that in it lived which our life is. Who that does not become against-striven world. And who understands too much passes the eternal. Occasionally in such large nights we are as except danger, in same light parts the stars expenditure-divides. Like urge it.

Goethe Schiller Kleist Shakespeare Kishon - they all are dead ... :cry:

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Beitrag von Rilke Fan » 31. Jan 2005, 02:21

Thanks a lot for this newst attempt to translate/interpret "Nächlichter Gang." Your choice of words has given me some new ideas to think about.

Vielen Dank!

Linda (Rilke Fan) :lol: