Update and German Poetry (Goethe)

It’s been so long since I last wrote a post! I’ve been busy with personal matters, into which I shan’t get here. Apart from one matter, I recently did a production of “Annie” at my old school – a simple affair you might think; think again. First I was to play the second keyboard part, then the first trombone part, and what did I end up playing? Trumpet and baritone horn! – Rant over.

Recently I’ve been interested in a large range of linguistic topics, though mainly staying within the Germanic family. I recently started thoroughly enjoying learning about Norse mythology, which got me interested in Old Norse as well. In an endeavour to possibly learn some Old Norse (ON) in the future, I began learning  Swedish and have even completed my first lesson on italki.com – a website I can thoroughly recommend – with the Swedish teacher Erik, who was great! And my interest in ON was caused by the YouTuber Jackson Crawford found here his videos are so interesting and fun to watch and very informative (excuse the repeated use of and). One of my friends at work also informed me that they studied a plethora of “dead” languages: Ancient Greek, Latin, and Old English. I have only had contact with Latin before, though I didn’t study it in detail – it was still great to be able to speak to someone who also has a love of languages!

A small note about Old English, the Wikipedia page History of English is really interesting if you’re interested in historical linguistics and can be a fun challenge to see how far back you can understand English, at least written English. In the example section, there’s a range of texts from Old English, to Middle English, to Modern English (Early to Present). I would guess that a lot of modern English speakers would be able to read the Middle English passage from the Canterbury Tales with relative ease and understand the general meaning, though there are quite a few words within the prose that would be unfamiliar to our modern tongues.

To German poetry:

So this evening I suddenly remembered a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe named Sommer and I believe there isn’t an English translation of this poem. I found this poem for the first time around two years ago I brought it with me to my then A Level German class. I re-read it this evening and wrote my own translation:

Sommer

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1810)

Der Sommer folgt. Es wachsen Tag und Hitze,

und von den Auen drängt uns die Glut;

doch dort am Wasserfall, am Felzensitze

erquickt ein Trunk, erfrischt ein Wort das Blut.

Der Donner rollt, schon kreuzen sich die Blitze,

die Höhle wölbt sich auf zur sichern Hut,

dem Tosen nach kracht schnell ein knatternd Schmettern;

doch Liebe lächelt unter Sturm und Wettern.

And here is my translation of the poem

Summer

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
translation by Cameron Bunney

Summer arrives, it grows by day and in heat,

And from the meadows, the embers surround us;

Yet there, by the waterfall, upon the stone seat,

A drink revives, a word refreshes the blood.

The thunder rolls, already lightning streaks,

The cave bulges out toward the safe pasture,

After the roar, a rattling clash quickly crunches,

And love still smiles through storm and weather.

Please give any feedback to my translation, even if you don’t know German, let me know if the poem sounds natural or not – it’s late so I can’t entirely tell!

3 thoughts on “Update and German Poetry (Goethe)

  1. I do not know German, but I like the translation. Only one part struck me as harsh to the ears: the use of “clash” quickly followed by “crunches”. I’m not even sure what “crunches” is referring to, but I found it too harsh (though I understand that harshness was probably the desired effect). Still, I wonder if there’s some other word that would fit just as well, without being too harsh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading it! I get what you mean, the sudden hard alliteration can come across as harsh, it could be translated as “a rattling warble swiftly blares” – if that would rest softer on the ears? Thank you for the feed back, I’ll continue working on it.

      Like

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