BTT #53: No One Is Coming.

Hello everyone.  I was inspired by Ken’s entry of a poetic translation a few months ago, and have been working on translating a poem by Rainer Brambach that I have always loved.  Brambach lived in Basel and is a noted Swiss poet, but I have never found this poem in English.  I enjoyed reviewing this process with a good friend and native German speaking local poet, (I will refer to her as RS), but I claim responsibility for this final translation posted here.  I will lead with the original poem in German, my translation follows the picture of Brambach.  I have linked this to Open Link Night on dVerse, hosted by Grace.  Here is the link:

OpenLinkNight #236

land of owls3_001

Niemand wird kommen

 

Niemand kam über das Feld.

Nur Regengewölk, Wind.

Niemand wird kommen, der sagt:

 

Lehmgestalt, steig aus dem Graben,

ich habe deine Gedanke gehört.

Gehe!  Die schöne Welt erwartet dich.

 

Niemand ruft: He, noch nicht unterwegs?

Dein Freibrief ist gültig,

leicht lesbar die Schrift der Redlichkeit.

 

Ich sah als Kind auf dem Jahrmarkt

den Tanzbären sich drehen,

hielt mich später am Tage versteckt,

kenne einige Gefängnisse inwending

und auswending die Sprache der Henker.

 

Niemand.  Regengewölk, Wind.

 

  • Rainer Brambach.  1917-1983.

 

rainer brambach
Rainer Brambach.  Photo Credit:  Archiv Diogenes Verlag, labeled for free non-commercial use.

No One is Coming

 

No one came over the field.

Only rainclouds, wind.

No one is coming who says:

 

Lump of clay, climb out of the pit,

I have heard your thoughts.

Now go!  The shining world awaits you.

 

No one calls:  Hey!  Haven’t you left yet?

Your passport is certified,

the script of your honesty clear.

 

As a child, I went to the fair and watched

the dancing bears twirling.

In later days, I stayed hidden,

knowing just a few of my inner prisons

and reciting the language of hangmen by heart.

 

No one.  Rain clouds.  Wind.

 

  • by Rainer Brambach, 1917-1983.  Translated by Lona Gynt, January 2019.
CICA strings_001
The footer and header photos by Lona Gynt, from my visits to Cica Ghosts “Land of Owls” and “Strings” in Second Life.  All rights reserved for translated text and SL Photos to Lona Gynt, January 2019

 

36 thoughts on “BTT #53: No One Is Coming.

  1. Therisa Godwaldt

    Lona, do you know, if more of Rainer Brambach’s poetry has been translated?

    As for myself, I wish that I could read and speak German. Most of my grade school French is mostly forgotten. And my university Russian, only exist in a few words and phrases

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  2. I take a poet seriously who attempts translation. Something akin to the interpretation of angels is involved … not just the letter but the trumpet inside it. A rather cold tune parlayed in the absence of meaning coming over the hills, but we don’t have to “learn the language of hangmen,” do we? Only recite what we already know.

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    1. Yes, Brendan, the language of hangmen seems to come naturally, we can recite it and receive it with precision. But the prisons are the mystery here for me, the twirling in circles of powerful beasts held only by those chains inside themselves, most of which we might not even be slightly aware.

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    1. I think that is a riveting take away from this poem, and may be a reason why it has always pierced me so deeply. Thank you for that, and thank you for getting me thinking about trying a translation! I have loved swimming with in different streams with this poem. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I felt aspect of war in this poem – do you know it’s roots? The implication of waiting, the “lump of clay, climb out of the pit” which conjures images of soldiers in trenches. Interesting poem. Thank you for this effort and for sharing.

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    1. Brambach certainly lived during great tumults, as far as I can tell, with living in Switzerland I have never read about him going to war, but it touched all of us then in profound ways. But the trenches is an image that comes to mind, and I had not thought of it that way before. I certainly see reflections in this poem about our naturally cruelty we can have one to another, and how we are imprisoned by the voices and surroundings of our training, like the bears. I think war is part of that. I feel hope in this though, that through consciousness we can overcome our prisons and our cruelties, we can transform ourselves from lumps of clay to living beings, but no one will do it for us.

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  4. I don’t have the words to articulate what I want to be able to say but I will try. First off, being able to translate from another language where before there was no bridge is world-enhancing and I hope your translation will reach a wide audience. Secondly, from the moment of birth we are expected to trust those in charge to guide and lead us in healthy ways. By the time we are old enough to realize that the “leaders” often are agents of evil (yes evil) but by then we are brainwashed to wait for the next set of instructions. This poem is made of extremes. At one extreme we have the wise one who sees it, but at the other extreme that wise one is paralyzed. Pardon me for being so wordy but I am compelled to type it in hopes you see I see.

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    1. This is an incisive and beautiful analysis, the trick is becoming aware of those prisons of which we are not aware. Your comment brings to mind I think I saw in Sartre once, about how parents rob their children of their freedom by their inculcations, and yet how could it be otherwise. It is a constant effort to climb out of the pit, isn’t it? Brambach did a perfect poem, I am sure there may be another translation somewhere, I would hope there would be. Thank you Jade! 🙂

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      1. Lona, glad I was getting the gist of the poem. Yes it is an insoluble dilemma with parenthood. If one could count on the parents knowing what and how to teach what’s needed to have best chances at survival it wouldn’t be a problem, but… You are welcome, Lona ❤

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    1. Yes, Brambach turns the whole poem on its head with that one, opens a whole new chapter of perspective. It required a colloquialism to be translated into a different type of colloquialism with the same feel, it drove me nuts, but I think I finally got it right.

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    2. Lona, I love your translation and I love that poem. Still I think there are two inaccuracies.
      First, “In later days, I stayed hidden” should rather be translated as “later that day, I stayed hidden”, refering to the uncanny incident with the captive bears. Or even as “later, during daytime, I stayed hidden” (both seems plausible), refering to his supposed desertion from the band of henchmen (soldiers, the SS, the like).
      Furthermore, I’d vote against
      “a few of my inner prisons”, because “inwendig” here means “von innen”, which translates as “from within”. He’s seen prisons from within, was probably detained, feared for his life, knows the hangman’s language. Wartime, captivity, human cruelty merge with the “basic abandonment” experienced in a godless and corroded, postmodern world

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  5. It’s a wonderful poem, full of the sound of doors opening and closing. It brings to mind the tone of the words of my Hungarian uncle when he spoke about his childhood under Russian occupation. We do not need others to impose those locks without keys. (K)

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  6. I love the ambition and I have sometimes pondered translating some Swedish poetry… we did have a discussion on the translation of poetry a while back at dVerse… and I remember the different views on the discussions… who can be translated and who cannot… I know a little German, and I do love your translation…
    The only thing I could feel that the word Regengewölk is such a mighty word compared to rain clouds… but I lack the deeper knowledge to find a better word in English.

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    1. Yes, that is true, storm clouds was considered, even “heavy clouds” or “low rain clouds” I fell Regengewölk is between rain clouds and storm clouds in evocation, I chose to go with rain clouds to reflect the rhythm and feel of the sound, and that the main feeling is one of solitary presence rather than impending storm, but I did wrestle with this.

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  7. This is a beautiful translated poem. I felt the terrible desperation and angst. The point of clarify came to me with these lines:

    In later days, I stayed hidden,

    knowing just a few of my inner prisons

    and reciting the language of hangmen by heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very interesting poem and am sure your translation is good as it is poetic. I will ask my friends here, one German and the other knows the language well if they know more about this poet. Good to open up worlds beyond the English language.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. sanaarizvi

    This is highly impressive, Lona! ❤️ You capture the innocence of childhood, the brutality of the world so eloquently in your poem. I get this feeling of one being more and more aware of what is out there as he ages. Better to learn how to fight back than to get hurt. 🙂

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