"The Tease" by William Godward‘A Strange and Sweet Unrest’ and Other Poetry by William Ruleman The Society January 29, 2017 Beauty, Poetry, Translation 4 Comments A Strange and Sweet Unrest Awake forever with a sweet unrest . . .” —John Keats, “Bright Star” She stands at the windowpane, no one in sight, No one behind her in the silent room, No human form to be seen in the sultry night; And, for a moment, she feels steeped in gloom. Yet somewhere distant, someone thinks of her, Feels the pangs of love pound through his breast; And all through her being, she feels something stir: The traces of a strange and sweet unrest. And she may never know the source of it, May simply brush her languid locks and sigh As lonely night birds sing and moth wings flit Against the glass and moments tick on by. Yes. She may never know what happened there. Yet love still met her on that dead night air. A Dream of the Graces Three They gaze at me with gleaming eyes, These slender nymphs who must be fed. Their hair is flowing, blond and red; And are they demons in disguise, Or, no, the sumptuous in my soul, Whom I have far too long neglected, With sanctimonious pomp rejected? I need them now to make me whole. They come with flowing hair and gown And irresistible merry mood, And I must work to give them food . . . For them, I would hurl the temple down— That shrine to rigid right and duty Whose shadow looms over me by day, Distracting me from poetic play, Barring my apprehension of beauty. The Ancestral Homestead The wings of the dog-trot house had collapsed much like The wings of an accordion one has squeezed to death, Depriving the instrument of its last gasping breath Till hardly dust was left within that wreck. It seemed far tinier than it had back when I used to go there with my Pawpaw, who had left It thirty years before to be bereft Of his birthright in the spendthrift ways of men Who long for grander things in city life Yet learn too late to love the land they lost. That house had sung the last song it could sing. Yet from its death throes, poverty’s strangling strife, From all those dissonant chords coughed at such cost, May my words wing abroad with resonant ring. Spring By Novalis (1772-1801); translated by William Ruleman I saw it turning green in the meadows And flowering all around the hedgerows; Each day, new foliage filled the scene; The air was mild, the sky serene: I knew not how it came to me Nor how these things had come to be. And ever darker grew the wood (Now the songbirds’ neighborhood), And I was soon drawn toward their sound In fragrant pathways all around. I knew not how it came to me Nor how such things had come to be. Now, everywhere, it surged and blent: All life—each color, sound, and scent— All seemed happy to combine So that each might sweetly shine. I knew not how it came to me Nor how such things had come to be. Had I felt a ghost revive To make all creatures come alive And everywhere—in wood and field— Bouquets of blossoms to be revealed? I knew not how it came to me Nor how such things had come to be. “Is this a new world?” one surmises. From idle dust, a whole bush rises. A tree takes on an animal’s gestures; Beasts are veiled in human vestures. I knew not how it came to me Nor how such things had come to be. And as I pondered my life’s whole, A mighty urge stirred in my soul: A friendly maiden came my way And took my musings in her sway. I knew not how it came to me Nor how such things had come to be. The forest hid us from the sun, And I thought: spring has begun! And all on earth appeared a sign That humans soon would be divine. And now I knew how it came to me And how such things had come to be. Frühling Novalis Es färbte sich die Wiese grün Und um die Hecken sah ich blühn, Und täglich sah ich neue Kräuter, Mild war die Luft, der Himmel heiter. Ich wusste nicht, wie mir geschah, Und wie das wurde, was ich sah. Und immer dunkler ward der Wald Auch bunter Sänger Aufenthalt, Es drang mir bald auf allen Wegen Ihr Klang in süßem Duft entgegen. Ich wusste nicht, wie mir geschah, Und wie das wurde, was ich sah. Es quoll und trieb nun überall, Mit Leben, Farben, Duft und Schall; Sie schienen gern sich zu vereinen, Dass alles möchte lieblich scheinen. Ich wusste nicht, wie mir geschah, Und wie das wurde, was ich sah. So dacht ich: ist ein Geist erwacht, Der alles so lebendig macht Und der mit tausend schönen Waren Und Blüten sich will offenbaren? Ich wusste nicht, wie mir geschah, Und wie das wurde, was ich sah. Vielleicht beginnt ein neues Reich. Der lockre Staub wird zum Gesträuch, Der Baum nimmt tierische Gebärden Das Tier soll gar zum Menschen werden. Ich wusste nicht, wie mir geschah, Und wie das wurde, was ich sah. Wie ich so stand und bei mir sann, Ein mächt’ger Trieb in mir begann. Ein freundlich Mädchen kam gegangen Und nahm mir jeden Sinn gefangen. Ich wusste nicht, wie mir geschah, Und wie das wurde, was ich sah. Uns barg der Wald vor Sonnenschein Das ist der Frühling! fiel mir ein. Und kurz, ich sah, dass jetzt auf Erden Die Menschen sollten Götter werden. Nun wusst ich wohl, wie mir geschah, Und wie das wurde, was ich sah. William Ruleman is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan University. His most recent books include From Rage to Hope (White Violet Books, 2016), Munich Poems, and Salzkammergut Poems (the latter two from Cedar Springs Books, also 2016). Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) 4 Responses Ruth January 29, 2017 ‘A Strange and Sweet Unrest’ is a nicely turned, Romantic sonnet, where one subtle moment holds mystery which leads us away into longing dreams. The Three Graces are a lively and beautiful metaphor, and the swing of the lines lets them dance… (though the last stanza falters in perfect rhythm). Though I do not understand German well, it is clear that the translation of Novalis’ Spring poem here is rendered into an English version which replicates as far as possible the rhyme and meter of the original… something which is not easy to do well; and the poem has the mystical simplicity of scene from a fairy tale… intriguing. Reply Yolanda January 29, 2017 Wonderful, especially the first two. Loved every word, ease my heart knowing distant love can be felt from afar Reply Lorna Davis February 2, 2017 I love all of these – I am amazed at the ability to translate a poem from another language into another beautiful poem – but I must admit that I am especially fond of the first one. “A strange and sweet unrest” is such a perfect description of that feeling, and your poem creates a lovely image with it. Reply William Ruleman February 8, 2017 Thank you all for your kind comments. I am deeply grateful. With best wishes, William Ruleman 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.