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Verfasst: 13. Mai 2003, 22:10
von Marie
Give your heart a sign
that the winds turned around.
Hope is non-comparable
when it is seen by the divine.

Get upright and remain
still in the unspeakable;
quietly loosens what was paralysed,
gently the bow disappears.

A cut goes through fatal cover
that was your home for so long,
and into the dismal prison
is flowing a feeling moon.

Hi Linda,

my first attempt to translate this poem! I hope as well as Volker that the "music" hasn't got lost on the way through my brain and the dictionary?!
If there are questions left, let me know ("I'll do my very best" - the last sentence in "Dinner for one" - do you know it?)

Liebe Grüße M.

Verfasst: 14. Mai 2003, 04:39
von Rilke Fan
Hallo Marie,

Thank you so very much for the translation! It is very late, so I am going to print it out before reading it, and I will comment on it tomorrow. This is so exciting!

Vielen Dank und Liebe Grüße,

Linda :lol:

Give Your Heart A Sign

Verfasst: 15. Mai 2003, 05:05
von Rilke Fan
Hi Marie,

We have been writing so much, it's getting hard to remember where to post a reply! Maybe we should start a new topic. This one is getting rather long anyway.

In regards to the poem you translated, I really like it, although it is somewhat difficult for me to understand, even in English. I have questions already with the first line, “Give your heart a sign,” which I believe is a perfection translation, but still I’m not sure what he means. Is this perhaps another way of saying “let your heart know?” The second line is also difficult, both in English and German, for me. Is it hope or the divine that is doing the seeing, and either way I’m not sure I understand what he is saying.

I think I understand the next two lines pretty well, and I like the use of the word “unspeakable,”although I would never have thought of it. I had never heard the word “Bezug” used except for a “pillowcase,” so I would have been at a total loss there. Is “unspeakable” a literal translation? I looked up a few of the words yesterday before you posted your translation, and I had a very difficult time with quite a few of the words, such as Bezug, Starre, Bug, Verhängnis, and flößt. I would never have been able to translate this poem myself, that’s for sure. I was thinking of “stiffness” for Starre (another word I’ve never heard in German), but paralyzed is perhaps better, although it wasn’t listed in my dictionary.

I don’t understand what the next line means, “gently the bow disappears.” I don’t know which kind of “bow” he is talking about or what he means. I’m lost in the next line too with “fatal cover.” I’m not sure what that means. I was thinking more along the lines of “fate” or “destiny” or perhaps "doom" for Verhängnis. What do you think? I love your use of the word “dismal” for dichte. There were many choices in the dictionary, but none of them seemed to sound right with Gefängnis, but “dismal” says it all! And to the last line, I think it’s difficult to decide between “flowing” and “floating” for flößt. Do you get the feel that flowing is more appropriate? And lastly, “a feeling moon” - another strange expression. I think I’m ready for the flowers now. I get the gist of the poem, but I’d like to hear your interpretation.

Thanks so much for what I know was very hard work,

Liebe Grüße,


Verfasst: 15. Mai 2003, 13:36
von Marie
I'm back with the "flowers", Linda! (Decide whether they are cactuses or roses!)

- "Yes" to your first question and the correct answer you found yourself
- The divine see with much respect the hard human effort hope costs, if it is remaining through all of lifes sit-backs (wrong grammar in this sentence, I guess!?)
- "No" - "pillowcase" would be literal! (I almost fell off my chair when I read this! Translation can be so much fun!) It's a typical case of special-Rilke- words; can mean:
- unspeakable, the All-One (including the visible and the invisible creation), infinity etc.
- "Starre": pain, anxiety and (attention! metaphor follows!) a condition of inner dryness like walking through a desert for a long time leads into paralysis of body, mind and soul - hope is the beginning of the cure. "Stiffness" is regarded to the body only, I think.
- "Bug": the bow of a ship as a metaphor for border, obstacle.
- "Verhängnis" (it's also mentioned in the poem "Hinter den schuldlosen Bäumen"): you can't see through, a disaster in a literal sense; obstacles all around you build prisonwalls; it's also metaphorical: "etwas verhängen" means to cover it (you can't see what is under or beyond it); our word for curtain is "Vorhang" - you cover a window, so no light comes in and the world outside gets out of view.
- Isn't "floating" a bit to "technical" (like "swimming")? I'm not sure whether my language-feeling reaches deep enough, but the term "flowing" seems to be softer, more adequately in its relation to the moon?!
The "fühlender Mond" is the opposite metaphor to the word "Starre": the moon is related to water, circle of life, female attributes, whereas "Starre" symbolizes desert, death and male characteristics (Rilke passionately admired the female-pole of life, so this would fit). If a "feeling moon" is "flowing" into a "prison" it brings with its "water of life" healing, rescue and sweeps away all obstacles.

Let me know, what you think about this.

Viele Grüße :D M.

Verfasst: 15. Mai 2003, 14:41
von Marie
I forgot to mention that, of course, there is some other meaning to the word "Bezug" in German rather than "pillowcase":
"in Bezug auf" - as far as, related to, regarded to, concerning
"Bezugspunkt" is a reference point
As you can see, those choices are not really helpful, either!

Liebe Grüße M.

Verfasst: 15. Mai 2003, 16:47
von Rilke Fan
Hi Marie,

Thanks again for more flowers. They are definitely roses!

I think Rilke’s use of the word “Bezug” is one of those words than someone who doesn’t speak German very well would never be able to figure out. I’m so glad you explained it.

Just to show you how far off my German is, while waiting for you to translate this poem for me, I looked up a few German words and came up with this translation:

“Richte dich auf und verharre
still in dem großen Bezug;”

“Cheer up and see it through
calmly in this great regard;”

Don’t laugh, but you can see how far off I was - not anywhere even close to Rilke’s meaning obviously.

I was too embarrassed to send you my attempt at translating, although a couple of our lines were similar, and believe it or not, I did come up with the exact same words you did for the first line, but beyond that it is embarrassing!

About the word “floating,” it is used not only for swimming. Something in space such as the moon could also be considered to be “floating” and I’m pretty sure I have heard it used in that way, something to the effect of “the moon floating by.” It’s one of those things just like “Bezug” probably that you can’t possibly know unless you hear the language very often, and even then you might miss ever hearing it used in that way.

The comparison of Vorhang with Verhängnis, as well as the rest of your explanations were all great, and this was very, very helpful. Thank you so much!

Liebe Grüße,


Verfasst: 15. Mai 2003, 21:24
von Marie
Hi Linda,

you don't have to be embarrassed about it and I certainly won't laugh! Just have a look at the stupid nonsense I produced under the "Fühlung"-poem a minute ago! :oops:
I'm sure you know much better if the word "floating" is suitable to the moon then me. I only compared the explanations the dictionary gives and listened to the sound by saying the two words loud - and that is far from any competence and knowledge!
I forgot to explain the second line "daß die Winde sich drehn": the winds are changing or turn around means that something in the mind and soul begins to open up for a new perspective: hope appears.

Liebe Grüße M.

Verfasst: 15. Mai 2003, 21:33
von Rilke Fan
Hi Marie,

Is "die Winde drehen sich" a German expression or a Rilke creation? Either way, I like it!

Thanks and many greetings,


Verfasst: 16. Mai 2003, 07:21
von Marie
Hi Linda,

no, it's not a special Rilke creation. Normally you would use to describe that there comes movement in a difficult situation. But it doesn't sound strange to me if it's used in a more psychological context.

Liebe Grüße M. :D

Re: "Advent" - Need English translation

Verfasst: 8. Jan 2012, 21:55
von timsmind

Translated by Timothy Adès

Winds drive the flakes in the wintry wood,
herding them, as a shepherd would.
Fir-trees can tell they soon will stand
piously laced with holy light:
alert and ready, they withstand
the wind, and stretch and seek the white
pathways, and swell their boughs toward
that night, that single glorious night.

Translation in Copyright.

Re: "Advent" - Need English translation

Verfasst: 11. Dez 2016, 13:22
von leisesee
And here is my english version of


The wind drives in the winter wood
the flakeherd like a guide,
and some a fir suspects, she should
soon be pious and shining bright.

And listens. To the wintry roads
she stretches her branches - ready inside,
defies the wind and growing floats
towards the one and glorious night.

copyright by Frank Rainer Petri

Best regards

Re: "Advent" - Need English translation

Verfasst: 11. Dez 2016, 13:37
von leisesee
written at the 3rd of Advent 2016.