Sunday, 30 March 2014

Some poems from Delhi: Ingrid Fichtner

Zum Zentrum hin

dornig das Zweigwerk am
Weg die Blätter gezeichnet
aus Stunden Gläsern Tag-
bogen aus nachtgewölbten
Blickwinkeln ein Hürden-
oder Himmelslauf bis hin
zum Achspunkt Brennpunkt
Mittelpunkt ist unsere Sonne
zugleich eher am Rand und
eigentlich recht klein ein
Zwergstern nur ein kleiner
Spritzer unter den vielen
Spritzern verschütteter Milch

Towards the centre

A raft of branches thorny
leaves scattered marked
by hours glasses the
diurnal arc night-vaulted
vantage points the sun's
path or a steeplechase
toward the centre our sun
being a centre yet pretty
small at the same time
a dwarf only a little dot a
tiny dash amongst the
many dashes of spilt milk

I admired these tiny poems by Ingrid Fichtner though they only came fully alive for me when she read them in German and the delicacy and precision of her phrasing brought out their exquisite musicality. That wasn't because she made a great fuss of articulating them - it wasn't theatre - but because the words themselves (I can't read German) found their proper place in the ear. It was like hearing crystal speak to itself. The English text is nice and particularly powerful in the last two lines where the repeated dash sound and the sharp pizzicato of spilt milk catches something of spritzer / spritzern / milch.

Poetry is generally a matter of intense listening, listening as carefully as you might look at a complex half familiar object. The writing in English seems descriptive but description is beside the point: it is the embodiment not the description that matters, the poet's intense attention becoming our intense listening.


Gwil W said...

I'd have translated Zwergstern as "dwarf star" and used "splash" etc. (because stars in the Milky Way can be seen as "splashes" of light rather than "dashes"), just as one example of where I think the translation could be much improved.

Gwil W said...

I reread that. I don't mean to sound like a clever clogs. Just trying to be helpful in my clumsy way.