Make each dying rose  a confidante

Language: French
Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke
Translator: Micah McCrary

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Make each dying rose
a confidante

Two new translations by Micah McCrary from Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Roses

Rainer Maria Rilke was born René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke in December 1875 in Prague. He lived in Prague until 1886, followed by residencies in Berlin, Munich, Russia, Paris, and Italy, where he authored the Duino Elegies. He is also the author of The Book of HoursThe Notebooks of Malte Laurids BriggeSonnets to Orpheus, and Letters to a Young Poet. He died of leukemia on December 29, 1926.
Micah McCrary is a regular contributor to The Nervous Breakdown and Bookslut. His essays, reviews, and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Identity Theory, Third CoastMidwestern GothicThe Essay ReviewHTMLGIANTSouth Loop Review, and Newcity. Former Assistant Editor at Hotel Amerika, and currently a reader at A Public Space, he holds an MFA in Nonfiction from Columbia College Chicago.

XIV

from Les Roses


Été:  être pour quelques jours
le contemporain des roses;
respirer ce qui flotte autour
de leurs âmes écloses.

Faire de chacune qui se meurt
une confidante,
et survivre à cette sœur
en d’autres roses absente.

XIV

from The Roses


Summer:  to be for just a few days
the friend of roses,
to breathe what floats around
their souls in bloom.

Make each dying rose
a confidante,
a surviving sister
of other absent roses.

XX

from Les Roses


Dis-moi, rose, d’où vient
qu’en toi-même enclose,
ta lente essence impose
à cet espace en prose
tous ces transports aériens?

Combien de fois cet air
prétend que les choses le trouent,
ou, avec une moue,
il se montre amer.
Tandis qu’autour de ta chair,
rose, il fait la roue.

XX

from The Roses


Tell me, rose.  Where did
your slow essence impose
all this air,
enclosed within yourself,
in this space of prose?

How many times has this air
claimed that things perforate,
or, with a sneer,
watch bitterly
while that around your flesh,
rose, cartwheels?