Monday, 12 October 2020

Translations: Two poems from English into German


It hasn’t often happened to me, a feeling that I must translate this work, must make it available to the English-speaking world. (I certainly felt this with Annemarie Schwarzenbach, which I will post later). And it feels extraordinary when someone takes the time and effort to translate some of my own writing. So I would like to acknowledge their work in some translation posts. This one is a translation into German of two poems of mine by the poet, prose writer and translator Herbert Kuhner. Highland is from my first collection Deepwater Terminal, published by diehard (Sally Evans, editor). The second is from my most recent collection, Shaping the Water Path, also published by diehard (2017)

These poems are so beautiful
That I just had to translate them.
I hope I have not done them a disservice.

Herbert Kuhner


Snow on high mountains
Is smoothed by the wind.
The white folds of winter
Fray into yellow grass
And sleeping heather.

There is no tree between me and the mountain –
Only the wind combing the marsh grass.
A ledge of snow forms a step to the house
And the sunlight trips, on its way to the ground.


Schnee auf hohen Bergen
Wird vom Wind geglättet.
Die hohen weißen Falten des Winters
Zerfransen im gelben Gras
Und schlafendem Heidekraut.

Es gibt keinen Baum zwischen mir und dem Berg
Nur der Wind kämmt das Sumpfgras.
Eine Schneeflanke taucht einen Schritt zum Haus auf
Und im Sonnenlicht stolpert auf dem Weg zum Boden.



The sweep of fields,
normally possessive of horizons,  
stretching to fill all the space available
as land does – territorial,                
busy with growth and weight and fruitfulness.                            
Under so huge and blue a sky,
these fields are barely visible,
you hardly notice them at all.
A crawling on the surface
all those machines designed, it seems,
to make patterns on the grass
embroidery of herbs and barley.
The sound of stitch and hum
drifts in the air,
under this immensity of blue.



Der Schwung der Felder,
normalerweise – mit Horizonten,        
die sich dehnen, um den gesamten
verfügbaren Platz zu füllen
wie Land tut – territorial,            
beschäftigt mit Gewicht und Wachstum.                                        
Unter so einen riesigen blauen Himmel,
sind diese Felder fast unsichtbar,
Du bemerkst sie kaum.
Auf der Oberfläche kriechen
all diese Maschinen, so scheint es eben,
um Muster auf dem Rasen zu zeichnen.
Die Geräusche von Stichen und Brummen,
dahintreibend in der Luft,
unter dieser Unermesslichkeit von Blau.

(2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. Very little moving around, never mind travel to other countries (hard for a travel writer!) and no live readings or meetings with other writers and potential readers, which zoom cannot replace. So, like other artists, I'm trying to make my work more accessible online. If you would like copies of either of these poetry collections, Deepwater Terminal / Shaping the Water Path, they are available from me ( £5 each including postage (in the UK) 2 or 3 pounds more elsewhere)

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