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Unread 10-18-2020, 07:15 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
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Default Rilke, The Stranger

The Stranger
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Careless of what those closest to him thought,
and tired of being questioned anymore,
he went away again, forsook, forgot—.
Because to him such travel nights were dear

in different ways than any night of love.
He’d stayed awake through many nights of wonder,
which, covered with the blazing stars above,
bent the narrow distances asunder
and kept on changing, like a battle; other

nights, with hamlets scattered all about
in moonlight, yielded as if holding out
their plunder, or through closely tended grounds
revealed their gray ancestral mansions, where
he gladly dwelt awhile, with head bowed down,
residing for a moment, knowing more
profoundly that there’s nowhere one remains;
he saw already, at the nearest bend,
roads again and bridges, other lands
stretching to towns the mind has overblown.

And always to let go of all of this,
not craving it, seemed more to him than his
life’s pleasure, property, renown.
Although from time to time, in foreign squares,
a well-stone’s hollow, carved by daily wear,
to him became like something that he owned.


Der Fremde

Ohne Sorgfalt, was die Nächsten dächten,
die er müde nichtmehr fragen hieß,
ging er wieder fort; verlor, verließ -.
Denn er hing an solchen Reisenächten

anders als an jeder Liebesnacht.
Wunderbare hatte er durchwacht,
die mit starken Sternen überzogen
enge Fernen auseinanderbogen
und sich wandelten wie eine Schlacht;

andre, die mit in den Mond gestreuten
Dörfern, wie mit hingehaltnen Beuten,
sich ergaben, oder durch geschonte
Parke graue Edelsitze zeigten,
die er gerne in dem hingeneigten
Haupte einen Augenblick bewohnte,
tiefer wissend, dass man nirgends bleibt;
und schon sah er bei dem nächsten Biegen
wieder Wege, Brücken, Länder liegen
bis an Städte, die man übertreibt.

Und dies alles immer unbegehrend
hinzulassen, schien ihm mehr als seines
Lebens Lust, Besitz und Ruhm.
Doch auf fremden Plätzen war ihm eines
täglich ausgetretnen Brunnensteines
Mulde manchmal wie ein Eigentum.


Literal translation:
The Stranger

Without caring what those nearest him thought,
whom he tiredly meant to ask him no longer,
he went away again, let go, forsook—.
Because he clung to such nights of travel

differently than to any night of love.
He had stayed awake through wonderful ones,
which, covered with intense stars,
bent apart narrow distances
and kept changing, like a battle;

other ones that, with villages scattered
in the moonlight, surrendered as if with
held-out plunder, or through well-tended
grounds revealed grey ancestral seats,
in which he gladly, with bowed
head, resided for a moment,
knowing more deeply that one stays nowhere;
and already he saw, at the next bend,
roads again, bridges, lands stretching
on toward cities that one overestimates.

And constantly to let go of all this, undesiring,
seemed to him more than his
life’s pleasure, possessions, and fame.
But in foreign squares the hollow
of a well-stone worn away by daily use
was at times to him like something owned.
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