Thursday, December 12, 2013

Das Wort

the selections from Heidegger gathered in "On the Way to Language" (1971) include a fascinating lecture about Stefan George's "Das Wort"—

here are a few translations, followed by the original:

The Word

From dream or distance, I would bring
to my land's border some strange thing,

then wait until the grey Norn came,
and from her well fished out its name.

Then I could take good hold of it,
and now, all round, it flowers bright.

Once, from a voyage blessed with luck,
I brought a fragile gemstone back.

She looked and looked and said: 'It's clear
there's no name waiting for that here',

whereon it slipped out of my hand,
and never came to grace my land.

I learned the rules through suffering:
where no word is, can be no thing.

(trans. Sheenagh Pugh)

The Word

Wonders from dreams and from abroad
I carried to my country's port,

But for the names I had to wait
Which in her depths were searched by Fate.

Then I could hold them in my hand
And now they blossom in this land ...

Once I returned from such a tour
With a small treasure rich and pure;

She searched for long but had to tell
That no such thing slept in her well;

At once it vanished from my hand
And ne'er this wealth entered the land ...

So, sadly, I became aware
That things are not if words aren't there.

(trans. Kai Arste)

The Word

Wonder or dream from distant land
I carried to my country’s strand

And waited till the twilit norn
Had found the name within her bourn—

Then I could grasp it close and strong
It blooms and shines now the front along . . .

Once I returned from happy sail,
I had a prize so rich and frail,

She sought for long and tidings told:
“No like of this these depths enfold.”

And straight it vanished from my hand,
The treasure never graced my land . . .

So I renounced and sadly see:
Where word breaks off no thing may be.

(trans. Peter D. Hertz)

The word

Miracle of distant or dreamless
I brought my nation to hem

And waiting until the gray norn
The name was born in her --

Top access can find me tight and strong
Now blooms and shines it through the mark ...

I once term after good ride
With a rich and delicate gem

They looked long and gave me kund:
"So nothing sleeps here at a low base"

What is my handle entrann
My country and never won the treasure ...

So I learned the sad disclaimer:
No ding is where the word gebricht

(trans. Google)

Das Wort

Wunder von ferne oder traum
Bracht ich an meines landes saum

Und harrte bis die graue norn
Den Namen fand in ihrem born—

Drauf konnt ichs greifen dicht und stark
Nun blüht und glänzt es durch die mark ...

Einst langt ich an nach guter fahrt
Mit einem kleinod reich und zart

Sie suchte lang und gab mir kund:
''So schläft hier nichts auf tiefem grund''

Worauf es meiner hand entrann
Und nie mein land den schatz gewann ...

So lernt ich traurig den verzicht:
Kein ding sei wo das wort gebricht.

Stefan George, 1919.


Considering the devotion given it by Heidegger, it seems strange this poem doesn't appear in any anthologies of Modern German Poetry in English translation, at least not in the ones I've seen.  Indeed the latest such, Hofmann's 20th Century German Poems, includes no verse at all by George.


No comments:

Post a Comment