‘The Great’ and Other Poetry and Translations by William Ruleman The Society February 27, 2016 Beauty, Culture, Poetry, Translation 1 Comment The Great The great are often shunned by their own age, While even the noble dead are sometimes mocked, And eras are damned when none who sees is shocked By scads of scorn spat on a sacred page. Today the sneering cynic’s deemed a sage. The door to love and beauty’s never been locked, Though years have passed when not a soul has knocked But chose to dwell in a crass comic’s foul-smelling cage. Yet there are those still called to higher things Than raucous crowds’ applause and glib success. Yes, some know better how to spend their days: They work to shape a soul that ever sings, A spirit stirred to soothe, inspire, and bless, A nature moved to sing and pray and praise. Poetry’s Return At times, all poetry leaves my life. And if it leaves for just a day— Or even for an hour or less— I feel like a dog in wait for its master: Enslaved to time, I only know Despair as I yearn for its return. At times I think of days with my wife When we were young and life but play— Mild sun, green leaves, no flaws to confess— Before the years began to go faster, Before a sense of sunset’s glow . . . Then poetry’s fires begin to burn. The Giant (By Joseph von Eichendorff; translated by William Ruleman) A tower his domain, He crouched, a creature caged. Insane, the weather vane Spun round as storm winds raged. A small hole let him hear Rivers’ spray and splash; Bright birds’ cheep and cheer; Weapons’ clang and clash. With glee a song implored The Lord’s eternal will. A wild mob rushed and roared, Then all grew deathly still. Now various voices stray Like turbulent sea winds, Part, join, a mad melee He hardly comprehends. Still, at every sound, He feels with shuddering zest Life, like a giant, pound Its path into his breast. DER RIESE (By Joseph von Eichendorff) Es saß ein Mann gefangen Auf einem hohen Turm, Die Wetterfähnlein klangen Gar seltsam in den Sturm. Und draußen hört’ er ringen Verworrner Ströme Gang, Dazwischen Vöglein singen Und heller Waffen Klang. Ein Liedlein scholl gar lustig: Heisa, solang Gott will! Und wilder Menge Tosen; Dann wieder totenstill. So tausend Stimmen irren, Wie Wind’ im Meere gehn, Sich teilen und verwirren, Er konnte nichts verstehn. Doch spürt’ er, wer ihn grüße, Mit Schaudern und mit Lust, Es rührt’ ihm wie ein Riese Das Leben an die Brust. The Forest Maiden (By Joseph von Eichendorff, translated by William Ruleman) I’m a glowing fire that blazes Round the rocks’ leaf-fringed expanse; Sea wind’s my love, and he raises Me to a lusty dance That changes as it churns. Rising wildly, Bending mildly In slim flames’ twists and turns; Don’t come near me: this fire burns! Where the wild brooks rush and glisten And the towering palm trees stand, There the stealthy hunters listen: Deer roam on every hand. I’m a deer flying through the debris, High and low, Where, in the snow, The last crest gleams silently: Follow me not: you’ll never catch me! I’m a little bird in the skies, Soaring o’er the ocean’s blue; Through the clouds from the cliff there flies No arrow as high as I do; And the leas and cliffs today, The woods’ solitude Of such magnitude— All have fled in wavelets’ spray: For I, alas, have flown away! WALDMÄDCHEN (By Joseph von Eichendorff) Bin ein Feuer hell, das lodert Von dem grünen Felsenkranz, Seewind ist mein Buhl und fodert Mich zum lustgen Wirbeltanz, Kommt und wechselt unbeständig. Steigend wild, Neigend mild, Meine schlanken Lohen wend ich: Komm nicht nah mir, ich verbrenn dich! Wo die wilden Bäche rauschen Und die hohen Palmen stehn, Wenn die Jäger heimlich lauschen, Viele Rehe einsam gehn. Bin ein Reh, flieg durch die Trümmer, Über die Höh, Wo im Schnee Still die letzten Gipfel schimmern, Folg mir nicht, erjagst mich nimmer! Bin ein Vöglein in den Lüften, Schwing mich übers blaue Meer, Durch die Wolken von den Klüften Fliegt kein Pfeil mehr bis hieher, Und die Au’n und Felsenbogen, Waldeseinsamkeit Weit, wie weit, Sind versunken in die Wogen – Ach, ich habe mich verflogen! William Ruleman’s poems have appeared, most recently, in The Belle Rȇve Literary Journal, The New English Review, The New Verse News, The Pennsylvania Review, The Quarterday Review, and The Sonnet Scroll.His books include two collections of his own poems (A Palpable Presence and Sacred and Profane Loves, both from Feather Books), as well as the following volumes of translation: Poems from Rilke’s Neue Gedichte (WillHall Books, 2003), Vienna Spring: Early Novellas and Stories of Stefan Zweig (Ariadne Press, 2010), and, from Cedar Springs Books, Verse for the Journey: Poems on the Wandering Life by the German Romantics, A Girl and the Weather (poems and prose of Stefan Zweig),and Selected Poems of Maria Luise Weissmann. He is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College. Featured Image: “King Alfred [the Great] Burning the Cakes” by David Wilkie. 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Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) One Response Terence Marin March 18, 2016 A great poem. Well said. I like the painting too. Alfred the Great was… great. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.