The Look in Your Eyes

This is a translation of a poem from Felix Hausdorff’s 1900 collection, Ekstasen. (You can see a piece I previously translated from the same collection.)
It was a fun challenge to capture both the structure of the rhymes and the main ideas of the original, which talks about the joy and pain and mystery of love.


This pair of eyes, whose darkly melting gleam
Binds me to you in love so shockingly
That I wither like a lightning-blasted tree
What dwells within them, and what do they mean?

It’s no mere greeting to one’s fellow man
But rather something private, tender, fond
A look that rests upon a secret bond
A sign you know we’re part of the same clan

Perhaps in earlier lifetimes, I had kin
Is it thus that you to me were given
And does your glance wake memories grown dim?

Or does it shine with my distant tomorrow
And is it an unborn child’s drive for living
That haunts me from your eyes with lover’s sorrow?


Original German – Dein Blick

Dies Augenpaar, von dunklem Glanz betaut
Zu dem mich Liebe so erschütternd faßte
Daß ich verdorrt, gleich blitzgetroffenem Aste
Was ist’s , das mir aus ihm entgegenschaut?

Das war kein Gruß, wie Gast ihn beut dem Gaste
So glühend innerlich, so tief vertraut
Ein Blick der auf geheimstes Bündnis baut
Erkennungszeichen der verwandten Kaste.

Eh’ denn ich lebte, hatt’ ich Brüder, Schwestern:
Wärst deren Eine du mir beigegeben
Und weckt dein Blick mir ein verschollnes Gestern?

Ach, oder strahlt aus ihm ein fernes Morgen
Und eines Ungebornen Drang zu leben
Quält mich aus deinem Aug’ mit Liebessorgen?

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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