Wildgänse rauschen durch die Nacht (English translation)

Proofreading requested

Wildgänse rauschen durch die Nacht

Wildgänse rauschen durch die Nacht
Mit schrillem Schrei nach Norden –
Unstäte Fahrt! Habt acht, habt acht!
Die Welt ist voller Morden.
Fahrt durch die nachtdurchwogte Welt,
Graureisige Geschwader!
Fahlhelle zuckt, und Schlachtruf gellt,
Weit wallt und wogt der Hader.
Rausch' zu, fahr' zu, du graues Heer!
Rauscht zu, fahrt zu nach Norden!
Fahrt ihr nach Süden übers Meer –
Was ist aus uns geworden!
Wir sind wie ihr ein graues Heer
Und fahr'n in Kaisers Namen,
Und fahr'n wir ohne Wiederkehr,
Rauscht uns im Herbst ein Amen!
Submitted by 0xX0xX on Mon, 25/03/2019 - 09:01
English translation
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Wild geese rush through the night

Wild geese rush through the night
with shrill scream towards the north -
unsteady ride! Look out! Look out!
The world is full of murder.
sail through the night-permeated world,
in a grey traveling Squadron!
bright flash, and battlecry sounds,
The quarrel undulates and surges far and wide.
Rush through, drive through, you grey army!
Rush through, drive to the north!
Are you going south over the sea -
What has become of us!
We are like a grey army,
and go in the name of the Emperor,
and may we sail without a return,
Murmur an amen to us in autumn!
Submitted by 0xX0xX on Mon, 25/03/2019 - 09:16
Last edited by 0xX0xX on Tue, 02/04/2019 - 10:23
Author's comments:

Mit "Fahlhelle zuckt und Schlachtruf gellt" ist das grelle Blitzen am Horizont gemeint bei einem Bombeneinschlag durch die Artillerie in der Nacht und dem darauffolgenden Sturmangriff der Infanterie (wie es im ersten Weltkrieg üblich war vor dem Sturm der Infanterie). Heute würde man wahrscheinlich sagen "grell weiß hat es geblitzt und der Schlachtruf ertönte".

The author of translation requested proofreading.
It means that he/she will be happy to receive corrections, suggestions etc about the translation.
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Sarah RoseSarah Rose    Sat, 30/03/2019 - 22:18

Hi 0xX,

I see that you've requested proofreading for this translation, so I've included some recommendations below as well as an explanation of each suggestion. I hope this is helpful.

1. Wild geese rush through the night --> check verb meaning
The verb "rauschen" can be translated to "rush," but in English, the most common meaning for "rush" is to hurry or to move in a hurried way. Unless there is context to clarify (for example, water rushing down the hill), it will be interpreted more like hetzen, sich beeilen, or Hektik. That's fine if it describes the way the geese are flying (in a hurried way).

But the use of rauschen in this case may refer to the type of sound they are making, especially since this line is a complete sentence when combined with the line below it.

Rauschen is used elsewhere in the song and again at the end. If it's pure coincidence and doesn't mean anything significant, then it's fine to use two different verbs. But if it's meant in a poetic way, as a common thread running through the song, then I would recommend choosing an English verb that works in all instances. "Rush" could work here, but doesn't work in the last line (see #12).

2. with with shrill scream towards north --> towards the north (or northwards)
A definite article is needed here, or you could use "northwards" in place of that. That could sound too formal in some contexts, but since this is a military song, it would work fine.

3. unsteady drive! --> unsteady journey (or voyage, sailing, etc.)
Since "drive" can be a verb or a noun in English, I would recommend changing this to make it clear that it's a noun here. While it can also be a verb or a noun in German, it's always clear which one is meant since nouns are capitalized.

4. Drive through the nightly-permeated world --> go/sail through the (night-permeated world?)
The verb "fahren" is another common thread through the song, but it's very general in German and almost always requires a more specific word in English. So it is translated differently depending on the context. Therefore, I would recommend picking a word (such as sail, etc.) and using that for all or most instances. I wouldn't recommend using "drive" since that means to travel by car.

I'm not sure what "nachtdurchwogte" means, but "nightly-permeated world" means that the world is permeated nightly (every night) and doesn't specify what it is that is permeating the night. "Night-permeated world" would mean the world is permeated by night (the night is everywhere).

5. in grey traveling Squadron! --> in a (or the) grey traveling Squadron
A definite or indefinite article is needed here.

6. far undulates and boils the quarrel. --> The quarrel undulates and surges far and wide.
The subject needs to be at the beginning. I think "surge" fits better than "boil" for a military song.

7. Rush through, drive through you grey army! --> Rush through, drive through, you grey army!
A comma is needed before "you grey army" to make it clear that the grey army is one thing as a whole. And same as #1 and #4, you may want to consider which verbs to use for rauschen and fahren.

8. Are your driving across the sea --> You are (or you're all) sailing/going across the sea
Since English doesn't have a formal equivalent of "ihr," you could say "you all are" or "you're all." The verb "drive" does not work here, since that means to travel by car.

9. Wie are like a grey army --> We are like a grey army
Oops, some German sneaked in there Regular smile This happens to me all the time.

10. und drive in the name of the Emperor --> and sail/go in the name of the Emperor
Same as #9 and also #4.

11. und do we drive without a return --> and we sail/go without a return
Same as #9 and also #4. The extra verb "do" is not needed.

12. rush us in autumn an amen! --> murmur/whisper an Amen to us in autumn!
Translating "rauschen" as "rush" is not correct here. The word order also needs to be changed.

0xX0xX    Sun, 31/03/2019 - 16:54

Thank you very much for your proof reading.

1. do you have suggestions what verb where to take? Even I as a german native speaker can not clarify what is exactly meant with "rauschen" context, but i would suggest that the sound is meant or even both to hurry up and the sound the geese make whle flying. But would your hear the sound geeses make? I'm would say no, so i prefered the english "rush" in this context. But if u have exact suggestions what, where to take, then let me know and i will change it.

2.with shrill scream towards north - changed it.

3. question here. Would you not translate "The Fahrt" with "The drive/driving" ? It's in german surely a noun. From my point of view a journey is more like a "Reise". But I'm not a native english speaker. So a simple "please take this, it sounds better" would be ok for me, as i just want to check it again.

4. the word "nachtdurchwogte" can be splitted into 2 words in german "Nacht durchwogt". The mainword here is "wogen" -> "wiegen".
Wiegen in german is mostly used on the following contexts "Ein Kind in den Schlaf wiegen", "Er wiegte sich in Sicherheit", " Das Schiff wiegt sich in den Wellen hin und her" - here its used the exact opposite way and shall show the danger or warn of the danger.

And the it's in context with the previous sentsense. which says "die Welt ist voller Morden" -> the world is full of danger (just translated by the meaning). The sentense with "nachtdurchwogt Welt" just continues there with this like "watch out while you drive the world. It's a dark place" (as well just translated by meaning).

5. in a (or the) grey traveling Squadron - changed to "in a grey traveling Sqadron"

6. changed as per your suggestion. If you use surge here, could I use surge then as well on 4.?

7. changed, as this sounds from my perspective surely better in english. And i think your suggestion means exactly this, what the german original text meant.

8. The point here is. It's verbalised as a question but as you can see it has no question mark in this sentense, so I assume this is a sure thing and the sentense just means "Are you going to die" (surely more simple verbalised). I'm pretty sure the interpreter is talking about "going to die". Do you have a better suggestion therefore maybe?

9. Not sure if i should take your suggestion here. As the german original text translated says "We are a grey army like you". There is a comparison in this sentsense. So i don't know if your suggestion is correct here? Could you check.

10. & 11. changed - please check what you think now of it.

12. changed as per your suggestion.

Thank you very much for your help and I hope you could check again with my explanations what the best solutions would be for the points I didn't change.

Sarah RoseSarah Rose    Sun, 31/03/2019 - 18:01

You're very welcome.

1. For this one, I think it's fine to leave it as "rush." I really don't know a different word that would work both here and at the end, and it's possibly that the use of those words at the beginning and end is just a coincidence.

3. I would recommend using "journey" or even "trip" here. In my dictionary, it does show those as translations for Fahrt when it's a noun, but not as a verb. I agree that "journey" is more like Reise, but trip is more general. The reason I wouldn't say "the drive" is that if I say "the drive was long and boring," English speakers will assume it's driving in a car. If I say trip, it could be by car, plane, boat, etc. and no particular method is implied.

4. Thanks for providing the root words for this, I couldn't figure out what they would be. I think this one will be lost in translation because although you could used "cradled" or "rocked" for the wiegen part, those will have more of a comforting tone and the opposite can't really be expressed. So I think I would say "night-permeated." That means the night (darkness) is everywhere.

6. I don't think you can use "surge" for #4, I was suggesting it as a translation for wogen. It works for that, but not for the wiegen part of nachtdurchwogte. Unless I am wrong in thinking that "wogt" came from wogen in that line?

7. For this one it's probably fine to leave fahren as "drive," as it will likely be interpreted as a different meaning of drive in English. We can say "the army was driven north," or "animals are driven out of the forest during a fire," but that is more similar to treiben in German. That's how I interpreted it when I re-read it, but then I saw that the original verb was fahren. So you could leave it as drive or change it to "sail."

8. The way you've changed it is correct, that works as a question. But the "nach Süden" part isn't included and I'm not quite sure how to translate that in a way that will express what you're saying, that they're going to die. In English we can say "things are going south" and that means things are getting bad, etc. But in the context of the whole line, if you say "Are you going south over the sea," it will sound like you're just sailing in a southward direction, no sense of danger is implied. So this part may just be lost in translation.

9. For this one, my correction was the use of "wie" instead of "we" in the English. I didn't catch that the "like you" part was missing. But you could phrase it the way you did above: "We are a grey army like you," or you could also match the German word order. You would just need to add commas to say that in English: "We are, like you, a grey army."

11. This one still has an extra verb, "do," which is not needed. You can also remove the indefinite article "a" and just say "we sail without return."

0xX0xX    Sun, 31/03/2019 - 21:33

Thank you for your replying. Just for your information. The original lyrics are even hard for a german native speaker as some words are pretty antiquated/lyrical and therefore even harder to translate or to figure out what the actuall meaning of it is.

1. okay thank you.

3. The main problem is, that we in german use "fahren" for everything which can roll on wheels/tires. But as far as i understand it now, this isn't the case in english. In this context it is meant as a noun. U can even use Fahrt in german if only parts of your travel are by a train/car/plane and the rest may has been by foot or horse, or whatever ;).
I changed it to trip. so that we have this part cleared out.

4. changed and thank you. Regular smile And again for your information - i think cradled would be the most fitting word in general. Or therewith it would be the easiest to translate it. But the use here is very specific - so cradled doesn't work here anymore.

6. Let me give a translation of this sentense by word, but may you can figure out what to put there so that it makes more sense:
Weit (far) wallt (undulates) und wogt (and surges) der Hader (the quarrel) . Do you have a good suggestion here or shall we leave it as it is?

wallt (wallen - present tense)
wogt (wiegen - present tense)

This is pretty lyrical in here. It should just show that there is everywhere around war (to be within the historical/ lyrical context of the song).

7. haha treiben has different meaning in german. You have just used of it over here in your explanation. the point is i think. that the interpreter is speaking about 2 things here at once. At first the geese which should fly onwards (as they are free) and the second meaning within the same sentense is, that he wishes the victory on the battlefield for the "grey army". But no one of these 2 are forced to do anything. Because you used drive in the context of being forced to leave - being driven out. That's something different actually.

I actually don't like sail at all, i had this discussion once before with my english teacher. But sail is like sailing a boat in german (Das Boot segelt...). But if you tell me, that sail would be the best fitting, then i would take it as well. But from the german perspective i find it horrible to use. Wink smile

8. I can explain to you what is meant here with "nach Süden". It's the same or somewhat of the same with 7. . Birds (not all but many) are flying to the south in winter. That's why he used in here "nach Süden". There is no other obvious reason from my point of view to use it in this way. As the germans didn't fight in WW1 towards south - it was towards west or east. And it shall also not imply danger. Or i can't find any danger within this sentense. He (the interpreter) is just combining again the world of the humans with the animals again (like in 7.). But we have a saying in german "über'n / über den Jordan gehen" and this means just simply to die. So to cross water can sometimes in the right combination be used as dying.

So i would think your suggestion "Are you going south over the sea," would fit pretty well. Shall i change it?

9. Thank you very much for your grammar explanation - i like to translate always in a way, that is the closest to the original text ( as long as it keeps the same meaning). So i will take up your suggestions with the commas.

11. I changed it as per your suggestion, but i would like to mention, that again this sentense is again a hidden question like the one before in 8. and should be something like "and may we sail without return". What do you think of this one?

Just another information at the end. in the Text is a line which says "Fahlhelle zuckt und Schlachtruf gellt". I have been very much confused the beginning what "Fahlhelle" is as i never have heard such a combination before. You know that we germans like to play Lego on words and combine often words. In this case the Interpreter did combine "Fahl" (pale) and "hell" (light). I thought at the beginning it would be a noun as well, but after checking it up i found out that he only combined 2 adjectives to a noun ( very uncommon in modern day german language - ok it has been written in 1917 Wink smile ). So I splitted the words, but even after that it made no sense as a word was missing. "Fahlhelle zuckt..." didn't make any sense. But after rethinking it i came to the conculsion that it must be like "Fahl hell zuckt es". And therewith the interpreter meant the flashing at the horizon on the impact of the bombs as originally described in commentatory.

Thanks again for your suggestions and help as this one is really not the easiest song Regular smile

Sarah RoseSarah Rose    Mon, 01/04/2019 - 06:06

I agree that it's not the easiest song Regular smile

6. I think you can leave this as it is, it sounds good.

For nachtdurchwogte, I don't think night-permeated conveys the sense of war all around, but I also think we probably can't convey that in English. So you could add a footnote explaining whatever you feel is lost in translation.

7. I see now that treiben is different, it's more like drift, in which case there is no push or force. But if something is driven out, there is some push or force.

I think maybe the reason you don't like "sail" is because German already has a separate word for that. But since there isn't an exact word like fahren in English, we will always have to choose between a more general word (like go), or a more specific word (like sail) if we can't just use drive. You could also try "ride." It's more specific than go but not as specific as sail, so maybe it's closer to fahren?

If you really don't like sail or go, you can use drive for most of the instances even though we wouldn't normally say that. The places I would not use it would be for the noun Fahrt (Unstäte Fahrt! - I would recommend trip or ride) and for the part where it mentions crossing the sea (which you already changed to "going," so that's fine).

8. It sounds like "Are you going south over the sea" would be a good and literal translation here. If you wanted, you could add a footnote about what that can mean in German, because there isn't really a way to retain the double meaning of dying in the translation.

11. Yes, I think that works if there is a hidden question.

Thanks for the explanation about that line with "Fahlhelle..." That's interesting. The way German builds words like Legos is my favorite thing about it and is why I love the language. Regular smile I think you found a good translation for this part.

0xX0xX    Mon, 01/04/2019 - 09:34

7. I'm cool with drive and ride in this context. I would even think ride fits very well. Also go would be okay i guess.
But I will pick ride for it. Because ride has something of Fahrt from my point of view. Like riding a bike comes pretty close to "Fahrt" in german.

And yes, you just found the other meaing of treiben Regular smile ("drifting loose on the ocean").

8. changed as per your confirmation.

11. changed as per you confirmation.

Thank you very much for your kind help here. Might you check it again, if I forgot something to change. If not then we are fine and I will keep it as it is.

Sarah RoseSarah Rose    Tue, 02/04/2019 - 04:12

The only change would be nightly-permeated --> night-permeated (that way it means that the night is everywhere). Otherwise it looks great!

0xX0xX    Tue, 02/04/2019 - 10:24

changed. Thank you very much.