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Poetry Translations

with Vera Ignatowitsch



Rides forth the knight in dark black steel

out into the clamorous world.

And there are all things: the day and the dale

and the friend and the foe and the hall-laid meal

and the May and the maid and the wood and the Grail,

and God in his thousands of selves in all

the roads and streets is installed.


But in the armor the knight wears, deep under,

back of the darkest of rings,

crouches death and must ponder and ponder:

When will the sword blade swing

over the iron hedge,

the blade, strange, unfettering thing

that calls me from here in this nest

where through each hunched-over day,

through so many days, I must cling, —

so I at last may stretch

and play

and sing.


Archaic Torso of Apollo


We did not know his head, denied us here,

in which the two eye-apples ripened. But

his torso shines yet, like a chandelier

in which his gaze, though it is screwed tight-shut,


endures and gleams. If not, the breast’s fine prow

could never blind you, and the silent twist

of loins could not have sent a smile on past

into the parts that were creation’s how.


If not, this stone would stand maimed and not tall

beneath the shoulders’ undisguised downfall

and not glow back thus like a wild beast’s fur;


and would not burst from all its rims, ablaze

as a bright star: for from no angle there

are you not seen. You have to change your ways.

Donald Mace Williams is a retired newspaper writer and editor. His Rilke translations have run in Metamorphoses, Blue Unicorn, and Measure. His book, Wolfe and Other Poems, was published in 2017 by Wundor Editions, London. He lives in the Texas Panhandle.



Reitet der Ritter in schwarzem Stahl

hinaus in die rauschende Welt.

Und draussen ist alles: der Tag und das Tal

und der Freund und der Feind und das Mahl im Saal

und der Mai und die Maid und der Wald und der Gral,

und Gott ist selber vieltausendmal

an allen Strassen gestellt.


Doch in dem Panzer des Ritters drinnen,

hinter den finstersten Ringen,

hockt der Tod und muss sinnen und sinnen:

Wann wird die Klinge springen

über die Eisenhecke,

die fremde befreiende Klinge,

die mich aus meinem Verstecke

holt, drin ich so viele

gebückte Tage verbringe, —

dass ich mich endlich strecke

und spiele

und singe.

Archäischer Torso Apollos


Wir kannten nicht sein unerhӧrtes Haupt,

darin die Augenäpfel reiften. Aber

sein Torso glüht noch wie ein Kandelaber,

in dem sein Schauen, nur zurückgeschraubt,


sich hält und glänzt. Sonst kӧnnte nicht der Bug

der Brust dich blenden, und im leisen Drehen

der Lenden kӧnnte nicht ein Lächeln gehen

zu jener Mitte, die die Zeugung trug.


Sonst stünde dieser Stein entstellt und kurz

unter der Schultern durchsightigem Sturz

und flimmerte nicht so wie Raubtierfelle;


und bräche nicht aus allen seinen Rändern

aus wie ein Stern: denn da ist keine Stelle,

die dich nicht sieht. Du muss dein Leben ändern.



Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets.



One day the earth will be no more

Than a blind space which turns

Confounding night and day.

Under an immense sky of the Andes

There will be no more mountains,

Not even a small ravine.


Of all the houses in the world

Nothing will remain but a balcony.

And from the map of all humanity,

A sadness without a ceiling.

From the late Atlantic Ocean

A faint tang of salt in the air,

One flying magical fish

Which will remember nothing of the sea.


From a coupé of 1905

(Four wheels but no road!)

Three young girls of that epoch

Lingering in a vapid form

Will look beyond the car door

Thinking that Paris is not so far

And they will smell only the scent

Of the sky which tickles the throat.


Where there was a forest

A bird's song will rise up

Which no one will place,

Nor prefer, nor even hear,

Except God who, Himself, listening,

Will say, “That? That’s a goldfinch.”


This translation was first published in The Honest Ulsterman.


The Point Of Flame


All his long life

he loved to read

by candle light.

He often passed


his hand through flame

to show himself

he was alive.

He was alive.


Now, since he died

he lies beside

a candle flame

but hides his hands.


This translation was first published in The Honest Ulsterman.


In The Forest


In a forest beyond time

Someone fells a huge tree.

A vertical emptiness

Trembles in the form of a bole

Near the fallen trunk.


Seek, seek, birds,

The site of your nest

In this high memory

While it still rustles.

Conor Kelly is an Irish writer who has had poems published in Irish, British, American, and Canadian magazines. He curates the Twitter site @poemtoday dedicated to the brief poem.



Un jour la Terre ne sera

Qu’un aveugle espace qui tourne

Confondant la nuit et le jour.

Sous le ciel immense des Andes

Elle n’aura plus de montagnes.

Même pas un petit ravin.


De toutes les maisons du monde

Ne durera plus qu’un balcon

Et de l’humaine mappemonde

Une tristesse sans plafond.


De feu l’Océan Atlantique

Un petit goût salé dans l’air,

Un poisson volant et magique

Qui ne saura rien de la mer.


D’un coupé de mil neuf cent cinq

(Les quatre roues et nul chemin!)

Trois jeunes filles de l’époque

Restées à l’état de vapeur

Regarderont par la portière

Pensant que Paris n’est pas loin

Et ne sentiront que l’odeur

Du ciel qui vous prend à la gorge.


A la place de la forêt

Un chant d'oiseau s’élèvera

Que nul ne saura situer,

Ni préférer, ni entendre,

Sauf Dieu, qui lui, l’écoutera,

Disant : “C’est un chardonneret.”

Pointe de flamme

Tout le long de sa vie

Il avait aimé à lire

Avec une bougie

Et souvent il passait


La main dessus la flamme

Pour se persuader

Qu’il vivait,

Qu’il vivait.


Depuis le jour de sa mort

Il tient à côté de lui

Une bougie allumée

Mais garde les mains cachées.

Dans sans heures


Dans la forêt sans heures

On abat un grand arbre.

Un vide vertical

Tremble en forme de fût

Près du tronc étendu.


Cherchez, cherchez, oiseaux,

La place de vos nids

Dans ce haut souvenir

Tant qu’il murmure encore.

Jules Supervielle (1884–1960) was a Franco-Uruguayan poet and writer born in Montevideo. He published ten collections of poetry and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three times. T.S. Eliot said of him and Saint-John Perse, “There are no two poets of their generations of whose permanence I feel more assured.”



The most fearsome enemy

is the closest enemy,

the enemy

who claims to be your friend.


Time, which goes away

is the best photographer

in the world.

He does not need cameras

to portray us.


I have not declared war

on anyone,

even so,

I know well

that I am not lacking enemies.



To Fill the Gap


Some purchase objects

to fill the gap

of lives

without any sense.


It is not easy to admit

that we are

only tourists in this world.


I try to forget it

with poetry,

but on some days

not even poetry

can reassure me.





L’enemigu más tarrecible

ye l’enemigu más cercanu,


que diz que ye’l to collaciu.


El tiempu que degola

ye’l meyor fotógrafu

del mundiu.

Nun-y faen falta cámares

pa retratamos.


Yo nun-y declaré

la guerra a naide,


abondu sé


nun me falten.



Enllenar El Valeru


Dellos merquen coses

pa enllenar el valeru

d’unes vides

ensin xacíu dalu.


Nun ye fácil almitir

que namái somos

turistes nesti mundiu.


Yo intento escaecelo

cola poesía,

pero dellos díes

nin siquier la poesía


Xe M. Sánchez was born in 1970 in Grau (Asturies, Spain). He is an anthropologist with a PhD in history and three master’s degrees. He has published seven books in the Asturian language. His poems have appeared in journals and reviews worldwide.

water and tree scape

Archive of Translations

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