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Friday, September 14, 2012

Rainer Maria Rilke: Sonette an Orpheus (Teil 2, XIII)

Ephraim Rubenstein: Be Ahead of All Parting
from The Rilke Series
no copyright infringement intended

Sei allem Abschied voran, als wäre er hinter
dir, wie der Winter, der eben geht.
Denn unter Wintern ist einer so endlos Winter,
daß, überwinternd, dein Herz überhaupt übersteht.

Sei immer tot in Eurydike --, singender steige,
preisender steige zurück in den reinen Bezug.
Hier, unter Schwindenden, sei, im Reiche der Neige,
sei ein klingendes Glas, das sich im Klang schon zerschlug.

Sei - und wisse zugleich des Nicht-Seins Bedingung,
den unendlichen Grund deiner innigen Schwingung,
daß du sie völlig vollziehst dieses einzige Mal.

Zu dem gebrauchten sowohl, wie zum dumpfen und stummen
Vorrat der vollen Natur, den unsäglichen Summen,
zaehle dich jubelnd hinzu und vernichte die Zahl.

Sonnet form: abab cdcd eef ggf

Says Ephraim Rubenstein, in the early 1990's I began working on a series of paintings and drawings based on the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. They are not illustrations per se, rather visual responses to the mood, imagery and rhythms of the poems.

Here is an English rendering of this sonnet, from a book whose name is A Year with Rilke: a collection of daily reading from his poetry.

Be ahead of all parting, as if it had already happened,
like winter, which even now is passing.
For beneath the winter is a winter so endless
that to survive it at all is a triumph of the heart.

Be forever dead in Eurydice, and climb back singing.
Climb praising as you return to connection.
Here among the disappearing, in the realm of the transient,
be a ringing glass that shatters as it rings.

Be. And know as well the need to not be:
let that ground of all that changes
bring you to completion now.

To all that has run its course, and to the vast unsayable
numbers of beings abounding in Nature,
add yourself gladly, and cancel the cost.

Is there any connection between the poem and the painting? Again Ephraim Rubenstein, his poetry has always struck me as intensely visual... born frequently as a respinse to specific paintings, sculptures and buildings.Well, I think it is more than that: the painting of Rubenstein expresses a unity in duality - reality and its image, reality and its mirroring illusion, reality and non-reality (parting while subtly wishing each other). Is it not the same with the sonnet of Rilke? As someone said (http://myweb.dal.ca/waue/Trans/Rilke-Orpheus.html), a Wegweiser (signpost) for death and for life together, for keeping the moment and for rennouncing to it: Be. And know as well the need to not be.

It is not an easy poem to understand. Or maybe you should let yourself to its rhythm, dreaming rather than remaining lucid? Here is a Romanian rendering:

Fii înaintea oricarei despartiri, ca si cum s-ar afla
in urma ta, ca iarna care tocmai sfarseste.
Caci printre ierni, e-o iarna ce-atat te va ierna,
ca inima ti-o-ntrece si supravietuieste.

Sa mori neincetat in Euridice –, si suie cantind iara,
si mai mult slavind, suie-napoi in raportul curat.
Intre cei ce se sting in apunerii tara,
fii un cristal care, sunand, s-a spart cu sunetu-odat'.

Fii – si cunoaste si a nefiintei stare,
nesfarsit intemeind launtrica-ti vibrare,
deplin s-o desavirsesti în aceasta unica oara.

Printre uzatele, ca si printre mutele, fara nume,
rezerve ale deplinei naturi, – negraitele sume –
extatic sa te numeri – si numarul fa-l ca sa piara.

It was the French rendering that allowed me to get somehow the meaning (it is true that I found it after the other versions, so I was somehow prepared):

Devance tous les adieux, comme s’ils étaient
derrière toi, ainsi que l’hiver qui justement s’éloigne.
Car parmi les hivers il en est un si long
qu’en hivernant ton cœur aura surmonté tout.

Sois toujours mort en Eurydice — en chantant de plus en plus, monte,
remonte en célébrant dans le rapport pur.
Ici, parmi ceux qui s’en vont, sois, dans l’empire des fuites,
sois un verre qui vibre et qui dans son chant déjà s’est brisé.

Sois — et connais en même temps la condition du non-être,
l’infinie profondeur de ta vibration intime,
c’est qu’en une seule fois tu l’accomplisses toute.

Aux réserves dépensées et aux couvantes, aux muettes
réserves de la nature, à ses sommes ineffables,
ajoute-toi en jubilant, — et détruis le nombre.

(Rainer Maria Rilke)

(Ephraim Rubenstein)

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