Walking

Poetry translation is an art form of its own, and always an interpretation. When I read Rainer Maria Rilke’s 1924 poem “Spaziergang” (see the German original here: https://bit.ly/2GU4LsH) it struck me as being about the unconscious mind. In particular, I thought it was about the way that our projections, our leaping ahead to conclusions and our interactions with other minds create effects in the world; but we don’t realize we’ve caused them and think we’re just perceiving external reality. None of the English translations I found brought that through; so I made my own version.

 

Eyes leap to sunlit peaks
When feet have just begun to climb
So too the thing we fail to grasp
Seems to touch us from afar

It turns us, even if we never reach it,
Into what we – though we hardly know it – are;
A flag waves, returning our signal…
But all we notice is the breath of wind.

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Kimberly Gladman Jackson is the author of Materfamilias (Tandeta Books, 2018) and Tesseract (Finishing Line Press, 2016).
You can connect with her on her website.

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