William Ruleman – Poems and Translations

poetWilliam Ruleman is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan University. His most recent books include From Rage to Hope (White Violet Books, 2016), Munich Poems, and Salzkammergut Poems (the latter two from Cedar Springs Books, also 2016).


AN UNREDEEMED IVAN ILYICH

After years of weary stifling of his soul,
He had at last become a personage.
His conscious mind caged well his hellish rage.
He never questioned whether he was “whole.”

Indeed, he ever held as weird and weak
All those who labored under Feeling’s sway
And never had a favorable word to say
For all who shied away from sound critique.

And how he celebrated rectitude,
The winning wit with which he foiled a fool,
The stern mind-strain by which he mastered Mood!

But all too late he learned the ruin of Rule.
We heard too late his cries against the wind,
Too late his lonely sobbing for a friend.


BERLIN

(by Paul Boldt; translated by William Ruleman)

The cries of cars, like horns on hunts,
Fill foresting vales of streets with their din.
Shots of light. And all at once,
The heavens burn above Berlin.

The Spree, its countenance like the day’s,
Gleams seaward seeking its release,
And keeps a taste of the wild town’s craze,
Whereon the trains croak, climb, sans cease.

Into the woods flow the blue night skies.
They feel, bedazzled, that you are alive.
Out of the thicket, fast trains rise!
The snow-white evening you contrive

Feels, blooms, sheds its leaves in the All.
You weave a human-hand-formed skein
Around the old earth’s faded ball
Like hard, firm light: so you remain.

Who knows in what worlds they have shone,
Your strong star’s eyes (where have they been?),
Steel-mast-flowered city of stone,
O white bloom of Earth, Berlin.


BERLIN

(Paul Boldt)

Die Stimmen der Autos wie Jägersignale
Die Täler der Straße bewaldend ziehn.
Schüsse von Licht. Mit einem Male
Brennen die Himmel auf Berlin.

Die Spree, ein Antlitz wie der Tag,
Das glänzend meerwärts späht nach Rettern,
Behält der wilden Stadt Geschmack,
Auf der die Züge krächzend klettern.

Die blaue Nacht fließt in der Forst.
Sie fühlt, geblendet, daß du lebst.
Schnellzüge steigen aus dem Horst!
Der weiße Abend, den du webst,

Fühlt, blüht, verblättert in das All.
Ein Menschenhände-Fangen treibst du
Um den verklungnen Erdenball
Wie hartes Licht; und also bleibst du.

Wer weiß, in welche Welten dein
Erstarktes Sternenauge schien,
Stahlmasterblühte Stadt aus Stein,
Der Erde weiße Blume, Berlin.


ZOO

(by Paul Boldt; translated by William Ruleman)

Birches and lindens—mild, unresting—stare
At their reflections in the canal waters’ light;
The moon, a hedgehog, crawls on the arch of night;
The stars pursue, consume the heavens bare.

Girls are here, and we are filled with cheer.
I fling a stone at the moon, that big fatso;
Betty has kissed me, so he should not glow,
For Bella grows still and turns up her nose with a sneer.

The cities of summer lie all round the park.
It’s getting pretty! The South’s flying up from the sea!
The sun’s expanding! Like men large, nude, and stark,

The days stride on, with spring in their hips and thighs.
And now the ash-gray lindens all agree
To green tomorrow in the fresh, sweet skies!


TIERGARTEN

(Paul Boldt)

Birken und Linden legen am Kanal
Unausgeruhtes sanft in seinen Spiegel.
Ins Nachtgewölbe rutscht der Mond, ein Igel,
Der Sterne jagt und frißt den Himmel kahl.
Mädchen sind da, und wir sind sehr vergnügt.
Ich schmeiße nach dem dicken Mond mit Steinen;
Die Betty küßt mich, und er soll nicht scheinen,
Weil Bella schweigt und naserümpfend rügt.
Die Sommerstädte liegen um den Park.
Es wird sehr hübsch! Der Süden wandert ein!
Die Sonne wächst! Wie nackte Männer stark
Schreiten die Tage, Frühjahr in den Hüften.
Die schwarzen Linden kommen überein,
Morgen zu grünen in den süßen Lüften!

 

 

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