Tag Archives: Poetry

Autumn Day

By Johna Till Johnson and Vladimir Brezina

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Blame it on Rilke… Or his translators, actually.

On a recent late-fall evening, Vlad was chuckling over the varied translations of the poem “Autumn Day” by Rainer Maria Rilke:


Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiel den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

The translations are here.

And even if—like Johna—you don’t read German, it’s rather obvious they’re rather, ahem, divergent when it comes to cadence, connotation, and tone.  Different from each other and from the original meaning.

Johna read them over Vlad’s shoulder and burst out laughing. “‘Summer was awesome?’ We could do better than that!”  Well, maybe not better… but different. If it’s acceptable to say “summer was awesome”—well then, that opens up a whole host of possibilities!

So here you go.  “Autumn Day” loosely translated for the modern era:

Autumn Day

By Rainer Maria Rilke (sort of)

Dude, it’s time! Summer rocked, but
It’s over. Sucks.
The sun slants low now.
The autumn wind sweeps through abandoned
Bodega stalls. Across the last bruised fruit,
Fermenting fast.
At least you’ll have some awesome vino.

No place to crash? Tough.
Too late. You’re solo now.
Time to stay out long
And ride the board
Up and down darkening alleys
Where the trash swirls.

The Dry Salvages

By Vladimir Brezina

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… the ragged rock in the restless waters,
Waves wash over it, fogs conceal it;
On a halcyon day it is merely a monument,
In navigable weather it is always a seamark
To lay a course by: but in the sombre season
Or the sudden fury, is what it always was.

T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages

The Dry Salvages is the third of T.S. Eliot‘s Four Quartets, a landmark of 20th-century English poetry. In a prefatory note, Eliot tells us that the Dry Salvages are a group of isolated rocks offshore in the Atlantic Ocean, but in the body of the poem they are never  mentioned again by name. Rather, their symbolic reach expands immediately to encompass one of the larger themes of the poem, that of water as the eternal agent of birth and death. It might seem, therefore, that the Dry Salvages are a mythical place.

But they are real, and a couple of days ago we paddled out to see them.

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By Vladimir Brezina

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… like a sea-anemone
Or simple snail, there cautiously
Unfolds, emerges, what I am.

Philip Larkin, Best Society

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But, contrary to Larkin, the best society is not always solitude…

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(St. Pete Beach, Florida, December 2012)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue

By Vladimir Brezina

The Daily Post‘s Weekly Photo Challenge is usually posted on Fridays. It’s now mid-day Monday… Over the weekend, I, and many other people who have been trained to eagerly anticipate the challenge, were almost giving up. In fact, to fill the absence, on Saturday night Ailsa on her blog Where’s my backpack? proposed her own alternative challenge on the theme of “Reflections“, and has been getting a very lively response indeed. My two “Reflections” posts are here and here.

Still, better late than never! This week’s official Photo Challenge is finally here, and it is Blue.

… And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

Philip Larkin, High Windows

That’s it: Blue means opening up, spaces without limits, endless possibilities…

Actually, some of the photos from my “Reflections” posts, here and here, would also have fit the theme very well…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Sun.

Suspended lion face
Spilling at the centre
Of an unfurnished sky
How still you stand,
And how unaided
Single stalkless flower
You pour unrecompensed.

The eye sees you
Simplified by distance
Into an origin,
Your petalled head of flames
Continuously exploding.
Heat is the echo of your

Coined there among
Lonely horizontals
You exist openly.
Our needs hourly
Climb and return like angels.
Unclosing like a hand,
You give for ever.

Philip Larkin, Solar

(Cape Cod Bay, July 2011; more photos are here)


My second interpretation of “Sun” is here.

Other nice “Sun” posts: