Rilke translations: autumn poem 2


Herr, es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren lass die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten, voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin, und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

Autumn Day

Lord: now is the day. Great were the summer hours.
Let all your shadows veil the sundial flowers,
and on the fields let all the winds blow free.

Command these last fruits to be full and ripe;
just grant the juice two days more on the south side.
To push the wine’s perfection you will hurry
the last sweet taste into the heavy grapes.

Those who are homeless will not build a house now.
Those who are lonely will not find a partner,
will sleepless wait, will read, write lengthy letters
and aimless walk the avenues and alleys,
impatient, restless, as the drifting leaves there.



Gud: nu är tid. Vår sommar räckte långt.
Låt dina skuggor skymma solurstiden,
och över bördig jord släpp stormen lös.

Befall de sista frukterna att mogna;
men ge dem ett par dagar till i solen,
en uppmaning att fulländas, du hetsar
så fram den sista sötmans tunga vin.

Är någon hemlös, skall han så förbli.
Är han allena, kommer det att vara.
Han vakar, läser, skriver brev på brev
och vankar i alléerna bland löven
så oroligt och planlöst som de far.

German original texts: Rainer Maria Rilke
Swedish and English interpretations: MaLj 2006

updated 12 November 2009: I just found the site with discussions of several versions in English.

Rilke translations: autumn poem 1


Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,
als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;
sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde.

Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde
aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit.

Wir alle fallen. Diese Hand da fällt.
Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen.

Und doch ist Einer, welcher dieses Fallen
unendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält.


The foliage falling drops as from afar,
as if some heavenly garden drops its foliage;
is falling slowly, with denying gestures.

And nightly hours falls the lonely Gaia
her heavy body drops down from the stars.

We are all falling. See, this hand will drop.
And watch the other one: this is in all things.

But still there is someone, who can hold the falling
and in his tender hands the fall will stop.


Nu löven singlar, singlar som från skyn,
likt himmelska planteringar förvissnar;
de faller med förnekande små gester.

Och under natten faller tunga jorden
ur stjärnehimlen i sin ensamhet.

Vi alla faller. Så faller denna hand.
Och se den andra här: det gäller alla.

Och ändå finns det en, som allt i detta fallet
oändligt ömt i sina händer bär.

German original texts: Rainer Maria Rilke
Swedish and English interpretations: MaLj 2006

Science and Human Values

“The discoveries of science, the works of art are explorations – more, are explosions, of a certain hidden likeness. The discoverer or the artist presents in them two aspects of nature and fuses them into one. This is the act of creation, in which an original thought is born, and it is the same act in original science and original art. But it is not therefore the monopoly of the man who wrote the poem or who made the discovery. On the contrary, I believe this view of the creative act to be right because it alone gives a meaning to the act of appreciation. The poem or the discovery exists in two moments of vision: the moment of appreciation as much as that of creation; for the appreciator must see the movement, wake to the echo which was started in the creation of the work.”

– Jacob Bronowski (1958)


“Most people shy at the very word “abstraction.” It suggests to them the incomprehensible, misleading, difficult, the great intellectual void of empty words. But as a matter of fact, abstract thinking is the quickest and most powerful kind of thinking, as even an elementary study of symbolic logic tends to show. The reason people are afraid of abstraction is simply that they do not know how to handle it. They have not learned to make correct abstractions, and therefore become lost among the empty forms, or worse yet, among the mere words for such forms, which they call “empty words” with an air of disgust. It is not the fault of abstraction that few people can really think abstractly, any more than it is the fault of mathematics that not many people are good mathematicians.”

– Susanne K Langer: An introduction to symbolic logic, Third edition. Chapter I: The study of forms, p 34. Dover, New York 1967.

End of summer 2006

Groucho is here seen arriving at “her” (his?) winter season home: the parking lot called the Twig Meadow, near the little horse stable at the outskirts of the village.