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1 Heine poem = 7 translations September 16, 2014

Posted by anagasto in poetry.
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It is one of those short ironical poems that Heine is famous for:

A  fir-tree is lonelyin the North on an empty ridge.

He feels sleepy;  a white blanket,

Of snow and ice surround him.

He dreams of a palm-tree,

Who, far in the  East,

Weeps, all alone and silent,

On a burning stone slope.

Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsamIm Norden auf kahler Höh.

Ihn schläfert; mit weisser Decke

Umhüllen ihn Eis und Schnee.

Er träumt von einer Palme,

Die, fern im Morgenland,

Einsam und schweigend trauert

Auf brennender Felsenwand.

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Gary Olsen kid-with-cell-phone

 The same poem and 7 different beginnings : at http://www.autodidactproject.org/ you can see them complete.

This goes to show why translations are never perfect reproductions of the original text.

1] There stands a lonely pine-tree
In the north, on a barren height; —– Emma Lazarus

2] A lonely pine is standing
In the North where high winds blow.—– Louis Untermeyer

3] A pine tree towers lonely
In the north, on a barren height. —–Aaron Kramer

4] A pine is standing lonely
In the North on a bare plateau. —–Hal Draper

5] A spruce is standing lonely
In the north on a barren height.—– Max Knight

6] On a barren arctic mountain,
The ice and snow lie deep, —–T.J. Reid & D. Cram

7] A single fir-tree, lonely,
On a northern mountain height, —– A.S. Kline

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keine-messe-wird-man-singen

Keine Messe wird man singen
Keinen Kadosch wird man sagen….

Heine died poor and in a painful way. To the end he wrote great poetry of the light sort and his greatest of the other kind.

The cab mentioned above could mean that he thought his wife would be left too poor to look after his grave. And when he says he is “so high up” he refers to the cemetery of Montmartre where he was buried. Montmartre is  the top of a little hill in Paris.

Perhaps you  noticed that the rhymes are erratic. He had a way of using  rhyme for fun. In the middle of a sweet  song he sometimes changes like a rapper  into flat prose.

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Comments»

1. safia - June 28, 2013

Hi! I just posted a blog on translating poetry “Lost in Translation” – please check it out if you have time. Thank you for reminding me of Heine – I like your example here. Nice post.


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