Timothy Adès : Poet and Translator

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Friedrich Hölderlin: Hälfte des Lebens

Translated by Timothy Adès

Hälfte des Lebens was one of the poems offered on the website of the wonderful magazine Modern Poetry in Translation as a project for translators. I contributed these three versions: one is in Latin elegiac couplets and one is a lipogram, avoiding the letter E.

Mit gelben Birnen hänget
Und voll mit wilden Rosen
Das Land in den See,
Ihr holden Schwäne,
Und trunken von Küssen
Tunkt ihr das Haupt
Ins heilignüchterne Wasser.
Weh mir, wo nehm’ ich, wenn
Es Winter ist, die Blumen, und wo
Den Sonnenschein,
Und Schatten der Erde?
Die Mauern stehn
Sprachlos und kalt, im Winde
Klirren die Fahnen.

Half of Life

Golden pears, roses wild, slippety–slip,
land leaning lakeward;
swans’–faces, kissy–drunk, dippety–dip,
depth sober–sacred.

O how’ll I find, come winter, flowers,
sunbeams, earth–shadow?
Walls dumb and numb, banners and vanes
shake, clack and rattle.

Dimidium Vitae

flava pirus, rosa silvarum: defertur onusta
terra superficie lapsa lacustris aquae.
suaviolis olor ebrius it: fas dedere collum:
sobrius in sacrum dat caput ire lacum.
e nive qua capiam flores, vim solis, et umbram?
signa aquilone sonant; moenia muta rigent.

A Half of Living

Gold Williams fruit and wild triantaphylls:
Land tilts towards Loch Lomond, almost spills:
You snazzy swans, half–cut with kissing bills,
In pious prosy liquid dunk your skulls!

O how’ll I find blossoms among snowfalls,
Warm rays of sun, shadows that land on soils?
Our flaps and flags clack; dumb and numb our walls.

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