Monthly Archives: October 2018
That dies away in Dimples
by Rainer Maria Rilke
(translated from German by J.B. Leishman and Stephen Spender)
Someday, emerging at last from this terrifying vision,
may I burst into jubilant praise to assenting Angels!
May not even one of the clear-struck keys of the heart
fail to respond through alighting on slack or doubtful
or rending strings! May a new-found splendour appear
in my streaming face! May inconspicuous Weeping
flower! How dear you will be to me then, you Nights
of Affliction! Oh, why did I not, inconsolable sisters,
more bendingly kneel to receive you, more loosely surrender
myself to your loosened hair? We wasters of sorrows!
How we stare away into sad endurance beyond them,
trying to foresee their end! Whereas they are nothing else
than our winter foliage, our sombre evergreen, one
of the seasons of our interior year,—not only
seasons—they’re also place, settlement, camp, soil, dwelling.
Another reminder that we will be reading and discussing Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Duino Elegies on November 22. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for more information.
Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom was written in 1952, when Plath was still a student in the US
An “important” short story written by Sylvia Plath when the poet was 20 years old will be published for the first time in January 2019.
Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom, which describes a fateful train journey, is one of a series of standalone short fiction titles being released by Faber to mark the publisher’s 90th anniversary.
According to the Plath scholar Peter K Steinberg, it is completely unlike anything else she wrote before or after. “It’s an important work and different to what Plath’s readers are used to seeing,” Steinberg said. “So it’s exciting that it will shortly be available for reading and consideration.”
The story follows a young woman as her mother and father hustle her through the glittering halls of a cathedral-like station and on to a steam-filled platform before deserting her in a sinister carriage furnished with wine-coloured, plush seats. There Mary meets a kindly woman who guides her as the train speeds through dark tunnels and a bleak autumnal landscape.
In one of the corn fields a scarecrow caught her eye, crossed staves propped aslant, and the corn husks rotting under it. The dark ragged coat wavered in the wind, empty, without substance. And below the ridiculous figure black crows were strutting to and fro, pecking for grains in the dry ground.
A vagueness comes over everything,
as though proving color and contour
alike dispensable: the lighthouse
extinct, the islands’ spruce-tips
drunk up like milk in the
universal emulsion; houses
reverting into the lost
and forgotten; granite
subsumed, a rumor
in a mumble of ocean.
definition, however, has not been
totally banished: hanging
tassel by tassel, panicled
foxtail and needlegrass,
dropseed, furred hawkweed,
and last season’s rose-hips
are vested in silenced
chimes of the finest,
opens up rooms, a showcase
for the hueless moonflower
corolla, as Georgia
O’Keefe might have seen it,
of foghorns; the nodding
campanula of bell buoys;
the ticking, linear
filigree of bird voices.
Dear Empire, I am confused each time I wake inside you.
You invent addictions.
Are you a high-end graveyard or a child?
I see your children dragging their brains along.
Why not a god who loves water and dancing
instead of mirrors that recite your pretty features only?
You wear a different face to each atrocity.
You are un-unified and tangled.
Are you just gluttony?
Are you civilization’s slow grenade?
I am confused each time I’m swallowed by your doors
By Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Susan Ranson and Marielle Sutherland) from Selected Poems, Oxford World’s Classics
Other translations suggested by Bill Ellis include:
Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Duino Elegies, translated by A. S. Kline