Saturday, July 2, 2011

Swan song


A swan moves on the water, 
 surrounded by itself, like a sliding picture.
 
 So at certain times the one you love
 is a moving space.
 
 Doubled  like the swimming swan, your lover
 comes near to your troubled soul ....
 
 trembling, you project the double emotions
 of  joy and of doubt.

My free translation of one of Rilke's poems in French (Vergers No. 40)

Un cygne avance sur l'eau tout entouré
de lui-même, comme un glissant tableau;


ainsi à certains instants
un être que l'on aime est tout un espace mouvant.

Il se rapproche, doublé, comme ce cygne qui nage
sur notre âme troublée...

qui à cet être ajoute la tremblante image
de bonheur et de doute.

13 comments:

Savannah said...

This is beautiful, thanks for sharing Robert. You remind me in college years, when I first arrived in North America, I enjoyed translating poems from Dutch literature for friends because it led me to read them more deeply. I still love how the practice of translation both mirrors and multiplies meanings, sometimes not unlike a sliding picture...

nina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne said...

Thank you for the magic and synchronicities your blog brings to so many of us. For me, it was downright wonderful to see the photo of the mute swan. I'd just returned from a workshop on July 2 to create a flute from a mute swan bone (using stone age tools).

A couple of days before the workshop, I'd asked if I needed to bring anything special. The organizers said 'Vesper'. I didn't know what that was and looked it up online in a bidrectional dictionary. One meaning is a snack. Going the other way, it's also the evening star. I tried to bring some of both with me.

After the workshop, as in the poem, I felt that tumble of joy and doubt.Joy from the opportunity to learn about swan energy and ancient ceremonies, and doubt because my efforts seemed so, well, primitive and without the tones I'd been hoping for. I can hear parts of the Swan Song in dreams and journeys, but am still trying to reflect that back.

Irène said...

I thank you. With soul-felt gratitude.

Robert Moss said...

Savannah - Yes, indeed, translation "both mirrors and multiplies meanings". My favorite word for the interpreter is in the Mohawk language, which I had to study because of my dreams. It looks like something like this: "Sakawennakerahtats". It means someone who transplants something from one soil to another.

Robert Moss said...

Nina - I wish you both happiness and inner peace.

Robert Moss said...

Anne - Ah, I would like to hear the music of that swan bone whistle - and not only on the last day of this life :-). We need to go through like with a "bidirectional dictionary" and dreams add to the entries.

Robert Moss said...

Merci, Irene!

Vidya Foley said...

hi Robert,

I left a post yesterday....... it said - simply,

"How beautiful".

Robert Moss said...

Thank you, Vidya. Simple can be beautiful.

nina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Irène said...

The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

© Mary Oliver. From The Paris Review # 124, Fall, 1992.

Aida Siljan said...

Only recently ive heard of Robert Moss,and am about to read my first book from you, Dreaming the soul back home!Had a dream a few years ago about a black swan flying above a beautiful lake, and beautiful landscape, and in the dream i said to a friend you see this is life. It was a very powerful dream, and reading now the poem you posted Irene, i think i can understand the dreams meaning! Thanks