William Ruleman – Two translations & Three poems

jamaica 125William Ruleman is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College, where he teaches a wide range of courses, including creative writing and literature, with a specialization in modern poetry in English, including that of Yeats, whose hometown of Sligo he will be visiting on May 2013. His poems have appeared most recently in Open Writing and Poetry Salzburg Review, but also in many other journals, while his first two books of poetry were published by Feather Books of Shrewsbury, England, and his translations of Stefan Zweig’s early novellas and stories appeared in 2011 from Ariadne Press. Currently he has several other books of poems and translations in progress.


(by Nikolaus Lenau; translated by William Ruleman)
And now the beech grove flames with autumn’s glow
So like one sick, whose cheeks, at times, flash red,
Although he’s leaning toward the land of the dead:
A rose for whom old songs no longer flow.
And one can hardly hear the little stream
That trickles down the vale: its wavelets glide
Like friends who tiptoe to the deathbed’s side
Desiring not to spoil a life’s last dream.
A gloomy wanderer now may find a friend
In nature, whose delights have faded too.
In concord with his melancholy rue,
Her dirge surrounds him here at summer’s end.
(by Nikolaus Lenau)
Der Buchenwald ist herbstlich schon gerötet,
So wie ein Kranker, der sich neigt zum Sterben,
Wenn flüchtig noch sich seine Wangen färben;
Doch Rosen sind’s wobei kein Lied mehr flötet.
Das Bächlein zieht und rieselt, kaum zu hören,
Das Tal hinab, und seine Wellen gleiten,
Wie durch das Sterbgemach die Freunde gleiten,
Den letzten Traum des Lebens nicht zu stören.
Ein trüber Wandrer findet hier Genossen;
Es ist Natur, der auch die Freuden schwanden,
Mit seiner ganzen Schwermut einverstanden,
Er ist in ihre Klagen eingeschlossen.


(by Emerenz Meier; translated by William Ruleman)
Before its breath, which draws fresh from the north,
The forest rustles; branches quiver, swell.
The voices of the little birds rise forth,
For one last time, in gloomy faint farewell.
The gaudy leaves fall from the trees and toss,
Hiss threats of dying, cruel time, loss of hope,
While evening shadows darken bush and moss,
And mist spreads far out on the slope.
In rapid race, the spring runs to the vale;
But hurry, yes; for soon chill frost will halt
You, child of rock: your streams will stiffen, fail,
Grow still where once they roared in every fault.
Go home, tired pilgrim, there in waning sun,
Ere winter comes. Your longing—won’t it flow
Toward warm hearts now? Or is there not someone
Who waits for you in autumn’s fading glow?
(by Emerenz Meier)

Im Herbstwind rauscht der Wald, die Zweige beben
Vor seinem Hauch, der frisch von Norden zieht.
Die Vöglein all die Stimmen sanft erheben
Zum letztenmal, zum trüben Abschiedslied.
Vom Baume fällt das bunte Laub und flüstert
Vom Sterben und von unbarmherz’ger Zeit.
Auf Busch und Moos der Abendschatten düstert
Und überm Hang macht sich der Nebel breit.Zu Tal in raschem Laufe eilt die Quelle.
Ja eile nur, bald hemmt der kalte Frost
Dich Felsenkind; zu Eis erstarrt die Welle
Und stille wird’s, wo sonst du froh getost.Geh heim, du müder Pilger dort am Raine,
Eh’s Winter wird. Zieht dich die Sehnsucht nicht
An warme Herzen? – Oder weißt du keine
Die auf dich warten in des Herbstes Licht?

Despite your mounting decrepitude,
The young have saved your harpsichord,
Carried it up the winding stair
To flee the ever rushing flood—
The deluge of our day’s mad ocean,
Our frantic need for ceaseless motion
That leaves, in its wake, mounds of trash-choked mud.
Slash the sea witches with your sword,
Ascend to the airy battlement
And play your merry instrument
Once again in that heaven-touched air
High above all petty care.
                                            “I am certain that in some later epoch humanity will be as
                                            sensitive to noise as it now is to bad smells and that the most
                                            severe penalties and public reprimands will be given for
                                            violations of one’s hearing.”
                                                        –Gustav Mahler, in a letter to Natalie Bauer-Lechner
                                                                                There are other places
                                            Which are also at the world’s end . . .
                                                        –T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
This place, too, seems at the world’s end.
The mountains dwarfing this little Dorf
Appear to command a quietude.
At times a sports car will rebel,
A motorcycle maim the calm;
Trains trickle through, as tame as toys,
All tiny ‘neath the towering peaks;
In vain do they sustain much noise.
The karst crags seem to brood over one,
A gloomy Greek chorus, backdrop for
A dreary stage for unproclaimed pain,
And close their ranks at dusk, immense,
As in “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.”
Yet tragedy in the traditional sense?
For who would hope for hubris here,
These goblins gobbling up every aim,
Every feeble fumble at manmade fame?


    “Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.”
                                    –William Blake, Proverbs of Hell
I rode, two shadows flanking me—
An artist’s sidekicks, though one might
Be embarrassed in their company:
Sheer Luck and Risk —those thieves in the night
That come and go . . . Fiends, friends, or both?
But there we were, on a late-night ride,
We three, despite my being loath
(Unlike those boisterous boys at my side)
To slam our engine against the gate
Of the graveyard and keep on tumbling forth
In the dark of night—and how horribly late,
How late in the night of the land of the north!
And did they show me the way ahead,
The path I’m destined to ride if I must:
Driving over the bones of the dead,
Grinding their matter into dust?
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