Monday, 14 April 2014

Day 14: 'Nuit rhénane' by Guillaume Apollinaire

Tangled up in rhyme again...This one definitely needs several more drafts. It was difficult to capture much of the music without twisting the sense considerably. My version currently uses a rather unsatisfactory mixture of rhyme, half-rhyme and no rhyme. I feel this is one of those translations you read with a strong sense that much has been lost; but I do think with more time to analyse the original and see how it works, my effort might be improved. I might use the same poem tomorrow, or another day when I have more time, and try a totally different approach to see if I can make any more of it!

Nuit rhénane

Mon verre est plein d'un vin trembleur comme une flamme
Écoutez la chanson lente d'un batelier
Qui raconte avoir vu sous la lune sept femmes
Tordre leurs cheveux verts et longs jusqu'à leurs pieds

Debout chantez plus haut en dansant une ronde
Que je n'entende plus le chant du batelier
Et mettez près de moi toutes les filles blondes
Au regard immobile aux nattes repliées

Le Rhin le Rhin est ivre où les vignes se mirent
Tout l'or des nuits tombe en tremblant s'y refléter
La voix chante toujours à en râle-mourir
Ces fées aux cheveux verts qui incantent l'été

Mon verre s'est brisé comme un éclat de rire

Rhine Night

My glass is filled with a quivering flame of wine
Listen to the boatman’s slow song
As he tells of seven women seen beneath the moon
Twisting and twining their hair, so green and long

Stand up, sing louder, dancing in a ring
So I no longer hear the boatman’s song
And bring beside me all the girls with golden hair
With the tight-coiled plaits and the unmoving stares

The Rhine the Rhine is drunk where the vines admire themselves
All the gold of night flutters down to itself in that mirror
And still the voice sings on to the death-rattle
These green-haired faeries who bewitch the summer

My glass has shattered like a burst of laughter

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