German-English Translation Blog
Thursday, October 14, 2010 08:05 am

Katharina Franck Transports Us to Rilke’s World

Katharina Franck recently finished work on her latest project, a CD of new music for poetry by
Rilke. The album was done in collaboration with the Club der toten Dichter (Dead Poets Club).
Bandleader Reinhardt Repke composed the music and Katharina did the singing. In the video
below, you can listen to their interpretation of “Zum Einschlafen zu sagen” (“To be said when
going to sleep”) (1900). My office decided to help make Rilke more accessible to non-German
speakers and worked out a new English translation.

German:
“Zum Einschlafen zu sagen”     
Ich möchte jemanden einsingen,
bei jemandem sitzen und sein.
Ich möchte dich wiegen und kleinsingen
und begleiten schlafaus und schlafein.
Ich möchte der Einzige sein im Haus,
der wüsste: die Nacht war kalt.
Und möchte horchen herein und hinaus
in dich, in die Welt, in den Wald.
Die Uhren rufen sich schlagend an,
und man sieht der Zeit auf den Grund.
Und unten geht noch ein fremder Mann
und stört einen fremden Hund.
Dahinter wird Stille. Ich habe groß
die Augen auf dich gelegt;
und sie halten dich sanft und lassen dich los,
wenn ein Ding sich im Dunkel bewegt.

English:
“To be said when going to sleep”
I’d like to sing someone to sleep,
to sit and be right next to them. 
I’d like to cradle and gently lull you,
and accompany you sleep-in, sleep-out.
I’d like to be the only one at home
who knows: the night is cold.
And would like to listen within and without,
into you, the world, the woods.
The clocks, striking, call out to each other
and we can see to the bottom of time.
And down below there’s a stranger
stirring up someone else’s dog.
Beyond, silence begins. I have wrapped
my gaze around you;
and it holds you gently and lets go of you
when something moves in the dark.

 

Comments  

 
0 #5 Guest 2015-02-04 17:43
Thanks for your nice comment.
The translation of “kleinsingen” was just intuition.
I didn’t use a dictionary when I translated the poem.
- Cathy Lara
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0 #4 Guest 2015-02-04 17:38
I came across your 2012 translation of Rilke’s "Zum Einschlafen zu sagen,” and I have a question for you. You appear to have translated Rilke’s verb “kleinsingen” by “gently lull;” and I’m wondering whether your decision to do so was based on a dictionary definition of which you are aware, or if it is an interpretation you feel is reasonable in dealing with an invented word.

In any event, yours makes excellent sense, given the use of “wiegen.” Thank you for your work.
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0 #3 Guest 2014-10-09 07:29
Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that I've really enjoyed surfing around your weblog posts.

After all I will be subscribing for your rss feed and I am hoping you write again soon!
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0 #2 Guest 2010-10-24 07:48
You're welcome. It was such a pleasure to translate. I'm wondering if you think you could sing the English version.
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+1 #1 Guest 2010-10-24 06:52
thank you so much!!!, cathy
simply beautiful!
love,
kf
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