William Ruleman – Two Poems and Three Translations

WILLIAM RULEMAN PHOTO for GALWAY REVIEW

William Ruleman is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan University. His most recent volume of poems, From Rage and Hope, has appeared recently from White Violet Books. He has also published two earlier collections of his own poems (A Palpable Presence and Sacred and Profane Loves, both from Feather Books), as well as the following volumes of translation: Poems from Rilke’s Neue Gedichte (WillHall Books, 2003), Vienna Spring: Early Novellas and Stories of Stefan Zweig (Ariadne Press, 2010), and, from Cedar Springs Books, Verse for the Journey: Poems on the Wandering Life by the German Romantics, A Girl and the Weather (poems and prose of Stefan Zweig),and Selected Poems of Maria Luise Weissmann.


ONE MAY MORNING

(13 May 2016)

The privet and honeysuckle are still in bloom,
And every tree I see is in full leaf.
Yet I am burdened by some nameless grief
And cannot see spring’s joy, so stooped in gloom

Am I by vague presentiments of doom
That find no source for solace in belief,
While prayers I tender offer no relief,
And I feel surfeited by spring’s perfume

Until a trace of honeysuckle’s scent
Reminds me of a lighter childhood time
When unknown woes did not yet weary me

And I felt one with May, and glad, and free.
And, aided by the grace of ageless rhyme,
I sense the joy for which my life was meant.


A SPRING MORNING IN MIDDLE AGE

(14 May 2016)

While still a child, I tried to stay away
From everything that made me fume or fret;
I never liked to be annoyed, upset
By anything inclined to spoil my day.

Since then, I have fallen for many a foolish fray:
Care for my calm I all too soon forget,
Self-righteous rancor all too soon regret,
And now I face this lovely morn in May

A cast-up wreck. Yet let me not despair:
Do let me sit in stupefied repose,
Entranced by cardinals’ trill and maples’ dance

While honeysuckles’ scents suffuse the air
And Sun’s darts spark a fire in every rose
To summon hints of lost childhood’s romance.


SPRING

(by Georg Heym; translated by William Ruleman)

Do you feel in the night the wind’s harsh cries?
Do you see in the clouds that flaming brand?
Do you hear the threat of war in the skies?
Today great Pan takes up command.

Come to the woods, where we long to run
Through the boughs of rose, the sultry nights,
And see the wonder on and on
When Titan rises from the heights.

How lovely you are in lightning’s dance
To the risen god in festive mood
When the spring storm in the mountains pants
And strides through the woodland solitude!


FRÜHLING

(Georg Heym)

Spürst du das Wehen der Winde der Nacht?
Siehst du in Wolken den flammenden Schein?
Hörst du in Lüften das Dröhnen der Schlacht?
Der große Pan führt heute den Reihn.

Komm, in die Wälder wollen wir gehn,
Durch die Schwüle der Nacht, durch Rosengezweigt,
Weiter und weiter das Wunder zu sehn,
Wann der Titan von den Bergen steigt.

O, wie du schön bist im Wettergeleucht
Dem erstandenen Gott zur Feier bereit,
Wenn der Frühlingssturm durch die Berge keucht,
Und der furchtbare Gott durch die Waldung schreit.


MUSIC OF THE FUTURE

(by Hugo von Hofmannsthal; translated by William Ruleman)

Sacred sympathy’s roaring stream
Strikes, resounding, at each heart;
Words—mere forms—cannot impart
Or grasp our spirits’ glowing gleam.

Our souls are free to moan or praise;
Forebodings dawn and powers swell;
Sounds pair up as in a spell;
All for today? For coming days?

Who will read its rooting, reeling,
Divine disorder? Who will hear
This most heroic, heated feeling—
Streams that roar and flames that sear?

Still: ruling this Titans’ spill and shove,
The trembling hint of redemptive love.


ZUKUNFTSMUSIK

(Hugo von Hofmannsthal)

Heiligen Mitleids rauschende wellen,
Klingend an jegliches Herze sie schlagen;
Worte sind Formeln. die könnens nicht sagen,
Können nicht fassen die Geister, die hellen.

Frei sind die Seelen, zu jubeln, zu klagen,
Ahnungen dämmern und Kräfte erschwellen:
Töne den Tönen sich zaubrisch gesellen:
Gilt es dem Heute, den kommenden Tagen?

Wer will es deuten, – ein gärendes Wühlen,
Regellos göttlich, – wer will erlauschen
Heldenhaft höchstes und heißestes Fühlen,
Feuerlodern und Stromesrauschen …?

Doch es beherrscht das Titanengetriebe
Bebende Ahnung erlösender Liebe.


HOUSE OF GOOD FORTUNE

(by Hugo von Hofmannsthal; translated by William Ruleman)

On an open balcony against the sky
An elderly fellow played the organ and sang
While on a threshing floor before his feet,
His slender grandson fenced with the bearded one,
Which caused a quiver to race up through the clean
And sheer oleander’s shaft, though one lone bird
(Quite still in the bloom-filled gleam of the treetop’s crown)
Did not fly off but peered down with a clever look,
While on the carved lip of the fountain rim,
The young woman simply gave her babe her breast.

Alone, the wanderer turned himself along
The threshing floor and round the ruins to the street
Then cast at those behind him a stranger’s look
And carried off—so like that evening cloud
Adrift above the silent river and wood—
The marvelous image of peace inside himself.


GLÜCKLICHES HAUS

(Hugo von Hofmannsthal)

Auf einem offenen Altane sang
Ein Greise orgelspielend gegen Himmel,
Indes auf einer Tenne, ihm zu Füßen,
Der schlanke mit dem bärtigen Enkel focht,
Daß durch den reinen Schaft des Oleanders
Ein Zittern aufwärts lief; allein ein Vogel
Still in der Krone blütevollem Schein
Floh nicht und äugte klugen Blicks herab.
Auf dem behauenen Rand des Brunnens aber
Die junge Frau gab ihrem Kind die Brust.
Allein der Wandrer, dem die Straße sich
Entlang der Tenne ums Gemäuer bog,
Warf hinter sich den einen Blick des Fremden
Und trug in sich – gleich jener Abendwolke
Entschwebend über stillem Fluß und Wald
Das wundervolle Bild des Friedens fort.

 

 

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