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Die Wahlverlobten (English translation)

  • Artist: Heinrich Heine (Christian Johann Heinrich Heine / Harry Heine )
  • Song: Die Wahlverlobten Album: Gedichte. 1853 und 1854

Die Wahlverlobten

Du weinst und siehst mich an, und meinst,
Daß du ob meinem Elend weinst --
Du weißt nicht, Weib! dir selber gilt
Die Trän, die deinem Aug entquillt.
O, sage mir, ob nicht vielleicht
Zuweilen dein Gemüt beschleicht
Die Ahnung, die dir offenbart,
Daß Schicksalswille uns gepaart?
Vereinigt, war uns Glück hienieden,
Getrennt, nur Untergang beschieden.
Im großen Buche stand geschrieben,
Wir sollten uns einander lieben.
Dein Platz, er sollt an meiner Brust sein,
Hier wär erwacht dein Selbstbewußtsein;
Ich hätt dich aus dem Pflanzentume
Erlöst, emporgeküßt, o Blume,
Empor zu mir, zum höchsten Leben --
Ich hätt dir eine Seel gegeben.
Jetzt, wo gelöst die Rätsel sind,
Der Sand im Stundenglas verrinnt --
O weine nicht, es mußte sein --
Ich scheide, und du welkst allein;
Du welkst, bevor du noch geblüht,
Erlöschest, eh du noch geglüht;
Du stirbst, dich hat der Tod erfaßt,
Bevor du noch gelebet hast.
Ich weiß es jetzt. Bei Gott! du bist es,
Die ich geliebt. Wie bitter ist es,
Wenn im Momente des Erkennens
Die Stunde schlägt des ewgen Trennens!
Der Willkomm ist zu gleicher Zeit
Ein Lebewohl! Wir scheiden heut
Auf immerdar. Kein Wiedersehn
Gibt es für uns in Himmelshöhn.
Die Schönheit ist dem Staub verfallen,
Du wirst zerstieben, wirst verhallen.
Viel anders ist es mit Poeten;
Die kann der Tod nicht gänzlich töten.
Uns trifft nicht weltliche Vernichtung,
Wir leben fort im Land der Dichtung,
In Avalun, dem Feenreiche --
Leb wohl auf ewig, schöne Leiche!
Submitted by Paul LawleyPaul Lawley on 2022-09-29
English translationEnglish (equirhythmic, metered, poetic, rhyming, singable)
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The Fated Betrothal

You weep and, seeing me, believe
That it’s for my distress you grieve --
However, dear, did you but know,
It’s for yourself your tears now flow.
O say, if sometimes you don’t find
An intimation fills your mind,
A revelation of our state --
That we have been paired off by fate?
United, we would share this wonder,
Apart, we’d separately go under.
The Bible’s clear on man’s behaviour:
Love one another, said the Saviour.
Our love was meant as all-enduring,
Your sense of self at last securing;
For you were but a charming flower;
My kisses would have fed your power
And changed your life, then, onward urging,
I would have seen a soul emerging.
We know now what it’s all about;
The hourglass-sand is running out --
O do not weep, it must be so --
You wilt alone, and I must go;
You never bloomed, you wilt, you’re gone,
Extinguished, though you never shone;
You wither, gripped by ruthless death,
And yet you’ve scarcely drawn your breath.
And now I know it, realizing
You’re the one! How agonizing
That what strikes me as revelation
Can sound eternal separation!
This ‘Welcome!’ is the time we say
Our last farewell. We part today
For evermore. We’ll never meet
When all approach the Mercy Seat.
For beauty with the dust is scattered;
Gone, as though it never mattered.
And yet how different for the poet:
Though he knows death; his work can’t know it.
Our fate is not annihilation,
We live and breathe in our creation,
In Avalon, the Land of Faerie --
For you, fair corpse, the cemetery!
thanked 2 times
This is a poetic translation - deviations from the meaning of the original are present (extra words, extra or omitted information, substituted concepts).
Submitted by Paul LawleyPaul Lawley on 2022-09-29
florboxflorbox    Fri, 30/09/2022 - 20:15

The only reason I do not give you 5 stars is because I am not allowed to so, since I do not speak the language of the original. I hope that someone who masters both languages will do it because the translation is perfect, a poem itself, I enjoyed so much reading it. Thank you!

"The Bible’s clear on man’s behaviour:
Love one another, said the Saviour."

"For beauty with the dust is scattered;
Gone, as though it never mattered."


Paul LawleyPaul Lawley    Fri, 30/09/2022 - 20:34

Many thanks, Flora. In fact, I think the poem is cruel as well as brilliant. So much so that I felt obliged to tone Heine down in certain lines. His misogyny in the third paragraph is glaring, and the vindictiveness (which I haven't toned down!) throughout is hair-raising! A real translator's dilemma: do I aim for absolute accuracy, or do I try to make the poem acceptable (i.e. falsify), where the original is highly dubious in its attitudes? In any case, thanks again for your appreciation!

florboxflorbox    Fri, 30/09/2022 - 21:01

The poem is full of antithesis but above all stands the bitterness of the poet since he is experiencing contradicting feelings.. apparently he was rejected by her and now facing the truth of death he is trying to frame all this with generalities( religious thought) that make this much more complicated. It's a consolation of himself and a farewell to his expectations and his past self. As for the image of the flower losing the chance to gain power by a kiss, I am not sure if he implies that his kiss ( his love) had indeed the power to save her. There's an ambiguity in the poem having me highly perplexed. Is this vindictiveness? Does he imply something else? As I see it, if I stared at a tomb of someone who broke my heart when he was alive, I think I would have addressed him something similar ( something like "you were nothing after all. "Dust returns to dust", you are nothing now, and yet if you were with me you could have been loved as nobody and my love would have given you the power to be still alive"- of course this is a lie, nobody knows how this could have eventually turned out in the end, but OK, it's a self-assertive other words, he is the one gaining power out of a dying flower;)

Paul LawleyPaul Lawley    Sat, 01/10/2022 - 00:02

You are much more generous in your response than I am, Flora! That third paragraph in the original is for me a real stumbling block. There he says (literally) he would have redeemed her from the realm of plants, raised her up to the highest form of life (made her human?!) with his kiss, and given her a soul. This revolves the standard romantic idea of the woman-as-flower so as to suggest that, as a flower, she is part of vegetable life and has never had a soul! (You can see how, rightly or wrongly, I toned it down.) And although my last line is not a direct translation (the original is: 'Farewell for eternity, beautiful corpse!'), it is no more or less savage and dismissive. I do agree, though, that there are mixed feelings here.

florboxflorbox    Sat, 01/10/2022 - 00:21 I get it...thanks for explaining. Yes, there is certainly something creepy about this poem, indeed. I am often accused of being suspicious and call everything misogynic, and this time I missed an elephant standing in the middle of room hahah. Anw, I still like your translation, the rhyming, the rhythm, everything. Good for you to "tone down" the last verse Wink smile

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