21 May 2007

untitled by h.c. artmann

h.c. artmann, born in vienna in 1921, died on the day i turned 17. here's my translation of a poem of his that doesn't have a title. below, as usual, his german original. here's an audioversion, too.

that one was tricky to translate - no matter how hard i tried i just couldn't save the "frosthorizons" for rhythmic reasons. i'm also very thankful for the people at no man's land who suggested i change my "letters are singly on paper" into "letters are just sheets of paper". sometimes the seemingly 'easy' stuff ain't that easy at all.

oh we de-loved de-bodied
whilst we suspiringly eye
the blooms of the bougainvillea
our left heart departs
untaught that the right part
already winters in frost
the past day i got a letter
that should move me vast
and that well tugs my heart
like a from afar blown touch
yet letters are just sheets of paper
by the sender with hindsight denied

ach wir entliebten entleibten
während wir atmend die blüten
der bougainvilleen betrachten
verreist unser linkes herz
unwissend daß das rechte bereits
an frosthorizonten verwintert
gestern erhielt ich einen brief
der mich weitgehen rühren müßte
und mich freilich auch rührt
wie berührung von fernhergewehtem
doch briefe sind stets nur papier
vom absender nachtags verleugnet

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