a short poem from Rilke's French and a "translator's note" on its background at
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Friday, September 1, 2017
Rainer Maria Rilke (left) and Paul Valéry, at Anthy, Switzerland, in September, 1926. Valéry was, perhaps, the living poet whom Rilke most admired. Rilke had published a superb translation of "Le Cimetière marin" in 1921, followed by German renderings of other works by Valéry, enough for a volume, Paul Valéry: Gedichte, which appeared the year before this photograph was taken. Valéry could not read German and had no experience of Rilke's German poems in their original language, but he expressed admiration for the poems in French that Rilke was writing feverishly during these years and had published several of them in his magazine, Commerce. The two poets look happy, which is always rare enough in photographs of Rilke, and which might serve as an indication of his pleasure in meeting Valéry, especially considering that Rilke was already suffering quite badly from leukemia. He died in December of this same year.
My translations of three of Rilke's French poems are online today at
Monday, July 10, 2017
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Unattributed photo from Petrarch's house at Arqua, in the Euganean Hills
Epitaph for Petrarch's Cat, Embalmed and Mounted
Antonio Quarenghi (17th century)
The Tuscan poet burned with a twin love,
but yet his Laura was second to me.
Why laugh? Her heavenly beauty was enough
to make her worthy --- so was my fidelity.
She inspired verses and genius for his poems,
which, thanks to me, were no cruel rodents' prey.
Alive, I drove the mice from his sacred tomes,
lest words be food when the master was away.
Dead, I strike fear in those cowards just as well,
my faithfulness still quick in this lifeless shell.
Etruscus gemino vates ardebat amore:
Maximus ignis ego; Laura secundus erat.
Quid rides? divinæ illam si gratia formæ,
Me dignam eximio fecit amante fides.
Si numeros geniumque sacris dedit illa libellis
Causa ego ne sævis muribus esca forent.
Arcebam sacro vivens à limine mures,
Ne domini exitio scripta diserta forent;
Incutio trepidis eadem defuncta pavorem,
Et viget exanimi in corpore prisca fides.