Your dress soughs softly  On the spiral stairs

Language: German
Poet: Georg Trakl
Translator: Jay Hopler

SHARE:

Your dress soughs softly On the spiral stairs

Four poems by Georg Trakl translated by Jay Hopler

Georg Trakl was born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1887. His first book, Gedichte (Poems), was published in 1913. He died a year later in a psychiatric hospital in Krakow where he was sent for observation after the human suffering occasioned by WWI, specifically the battle of Gródek, brought him near to a mental collapse. Whether his death was the result of suicide or was an accidental overdose of cocaine is still not known. His second book, Sebastian im Traum (Sebastian in Dream), was published posthumously.
Jay Hopler’s poetry, essays, and translations have appeared most recently, or are forthcoming, in The Literary ReviewThe New Republic, and The New YorkerGreen Squall, his first book of poetry, won the 2005 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His most recent book is Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry (edited with Kimberly Johnson, Yale University Press, 2013). McSweeney’s will publish his second book of poems, The Abridged History of Rainfall, in 2016.

Im Herbst

Die Sonnenblumen leuchten am Zaun,

Still sitzen Kranke im Sonnenschein.

Im Acker mühn sich singend die Frau’n,

Die Klosterglocken läuten darein.



Die Vögel sagen dir ferne Mär’,

Die Klosterglocken läuten darein.

Vom Hof tönt sanft die Geige her.

Heut keltern sie den braunen Wein.



Da zeigt der Mensch sich froh und lind.

Heut keltern sie den braunen Wein.

Weit offen die Totenkammern sind

Und schön bemalt vom Sonnenschein.

In the Autumn

The sunflowers shine by the fence.
The invalids sit quietly in the sunshine.
The singing women work in a field,
Into which are chiming cloister bells.

The birds tell you tales of far-off places
Into which are chiming cloister bells.
From the courtyard, a violin is heard.
Today, they press the brown wine.

In autumn, man is blithe and balmy.
Today they press the brown wine.
Wide open are the chambers of the dead
And full of the most beautiful sunshine.

Sommer

Am Abend schweigt die Klage

Des Kuckucks im Wald.

Tiefer neigt sich das Korn,

Der rote Mohn.



Schwarzes Gewitter droht

Über dem Hügel.

Das alte Lied der Grille

Erstirbt im Feld.



Nimmer regt sich das Laub

Der Kastanie.

Auf der Wendeltreppe

Rauscht dein Kleid.



Stille leuchtet die Kerze

Im dunklen Zimmer;

Eine silberne Hand

Löschte sie aus;



Windstille, sternlose Nacht.

Summer

In the evening, in the forest,
The cuckoo’s complaint grows quiet. 
The wheat leans more deeply,
The red poppy. 

Thunderheads threaten
Over the hill. 
The old song of the cricket
Dies in the field. 

Ever still, the leaves
Of the chestnut tree. 
Your dress soughs softly
On the spiral stairs. 

Silently, the candle
In the dark room shines;
A silver hand
Snuffs it out. 

Windless, starless night.

Delirium

Der schwarze Schnee, der von den Dächern rinnt;
Ein roter Finger taucht in deine Stirne
Ins kahle Zimmer sinken blaue Firne,
Die Liebender erstorbene Spiegel sind.
In schwere Stücke bricht das Haupt und sinnt
Den Schatten nach im Spiegel blauer Firne,
Dem kalten Lächeln einer toten Dirne.
In Nelkendüften weint der Abendwind. 

Delirium

Black snow spills from the rooftops. 
A red finger pokes into your skull. 
Blue glacial ice melts into an empty room,
The lover’s dead mirror. 
Or is it, the dead lovers’ mirror? 
The brain breaks into heavy pieces
Just thinking about it.  The reflection
Of that blue ice in the mirror
Is like the cold smile of a dead tramp. 
The evening wind wails,
Reeking of carnations.

Nachtergebung

Mönchin!  schließ mich in dein Dunkel,
Ihr Gebirge kühl und blau!
Niederblutet dunkler Tau;
Kreuz ragt steil im Sterngefunkel.

Purpurn brachen Mund und Lüge
In verfallner Kammer kühl;
Scheint noch Lachen, golden Spiel,
Einer Glocke letzte Züge.

Mondeswolke!  Schwärzlich fallen
Wilde Früchte nachts vom Baum
Und zum Grabe wird der Raum
Und zum Traum dies Erdenwallen.

Vespers

Mother Superior, lock me up in darkness,
Yours!  Your mountains so cool.  So blue—.  
The gloom-dimmed dew blooms down into the earth. 
A cross rockets Heavenward.  Star-spark and star-shine. 

In a shabby backroom, a liar takes one
In the kisser and his split lips swell. 
I hear laughter growing fainter,
Shining like a dying bell. 

Mooncloud!  At night, when the ripe fruit falls
From the trees so bitterly,
Our every room a tomb becomes. 
What a waste the world is.