Friday, June 02, 2006

Friday poetry blogging: Über allen Gipfeln

This one has to be read aloud. Scroll down for the translation (I've used Longfellow's, since it's poetry in itself and far beyond anything I could have come up with.)

Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh'

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Über allen Gipfeln
Ist Ruh'
In allen Wipfeln
Spürest Du
Kaum einen Hauch;
Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde
Warte nur, balde
Ruhest Du auch.

Another Night Song

Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

O'er all the hill-tops
Is quiet now,
In all the tree-tops
Hearest thou,
Hardly a breath;
The birds are asleep in the trees:
Wait; soon like these
Thou too shalt rest.

My favourite parody of this poem:
Drüben am Walde
Kängt ein Guru.
Warte nur, balde
Kängurst auch du.

Joachim Ringelnatz

This really only works in German, but if you must have a translation, the closest I could manage was this:
Over there in the trees
kangs a garoo.
Wait -- soon like these
kangast thou too.

And finally, here's what Babelfish came up with when I tried running the original version through its German-to-English translator:
Over all summits is rest
in all treetops hardly feel you a breath;
The small birds are silent in the forest control room
only, balde rest you also.

I love the idea of a forest control room.


Anonymous said...

Hi, StyleyGeek ,

Your are absolutely right, the forest control room is loveable (don't mix with lovely). I was wondering where it comes from until I recognized the word warte what may mean something like control room if used as a subject. A better translation of Warte seems to be lookout and that would give the poem a nice turn thinking of birds in their lookouts waiting silent for You to die.

StyleyGeek said...

Yes, I think that Babelfish must have interpreted warte, the imperative verb, as Warte, the noun. And yes, lookout actually works quite well, but isn't so surreal.

The first time I read this poem, I didn't get that it was about death. That only came on the third or fourth reading. Maybe that shows I have a naturally optimistic outlook. Or maybe that I was just dense :)

A.Z.F. said...

I suggest this translation

Anonymous said...

How about:

Above every mountain crest
Is peace.
No wind stirs the branches,no treetop bends.
The cries of the forest birds cease.
Soon the long climb ends
and you too will rest.

Cheers TM