March: Black Locust against a March Sky
(click on photo to enlarge)
Black Locust against March Sky "...Strict was her teacher. The white
in the old man's beard pleases us.
Now, what to call green, to call blue,
we dare to ask: she knows, she knows!"

Sonnets to Orpheus,
Rainer Maria Rilke

This week, an image of branches
against a March sky, together with
a new translation of a German
early spring poem.

The guest poem for this week is a new translation from the first book of the Sonnets to Orpheus
by the German language poet,
Rainer Maria Rilke (from the Rilke website, a concise hyperlinked biography).


Frühling ist wiedergekommen. Die Erde
ist wie ein Kind, daß Gedichte weiß,
viele, o viele . . . . Für die Beschwerde
langen Lernens bekommt sie den Preis.

Streng war ihr Lehrer. Wir mochten das Weiße
an dem Barte des alten Manns.
Nun, wie das Grüne, das Blaue heiße,
dürfen wir fragen: sie kanns, sie kanns!

Erde, die Frei hat, du glückliche, spiele
nun mit den Kindern. Wir wollen dich fangen,
fröhliche Erde. Dem Frohsten gelingts.

O, was der Lehrer sie lehrte, das Viele,
und was gedruckt steht in Wurzeln und langen
schwierigen Stämmen: sie singts, sie singts!

                Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring has again returned. The Earth
is like a child that knows many poems,
many, o so many . . . . For the hardship
of such long learning she receives the prize.

Strict was her teacher. The white
in the old man's beard pleases us.
Now, what to call green, to call blue,
we dare to ask: she knows, she knows!

Earth, now free, you happy one, play now
with the children. We want to catch you,
joyful Earth. Only the most joyful can do it.

O, what her teacher taught her, the plenitude,
and that which is pressed into roots and long
heavy, twisted trunks: she sings, she sings!

                        (tr. Cliff Crego)


| see also the Rilke Posters |

| listen to other recordings in English and German of twelve poems from
The Book of Images
at The Rilke Download Page
(# Includes instructions) |
See also a selection of recent Picture/Poem "Rilke in translation" features at the Rilke Archive.

See also another website
by Cliff Crego:
The Poetry of
Rainer Maria Rilke
a presentation of 80 of the
best poems of Rilke in
both German and
new English translations
biography, links, posters


"Straight roads,
Slow rivers,
Deep clay."
A collection of contemporary Dutch poetry
in English translation, with commentary
and photographs
by Cliff Crego

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Photograph/Texts of Translations © 1999 - 2001 Cliff Crego

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