IN SPRINGTranslated by Jay Hopler
Quietly, the snow disappears from the dark steps.
In the shadows of trees,
Lovers lift their rosy eyelids.
Always they follow the dark calling of the boatman,
The stars and the night.
And the oars strike the water gently, in time.
Soon, by the ruined wall, violets
Will bloom. The Temple of the Desolate
Turns green so silently.
by George Trakl
Original by George Trakl
Leise sank von dunklen Schritten der Schnee,
Im Schatten des Baums
Heben die rosigen Lider Liebende.
Immer folgt den dunklen Rufen der Schiffer
Stern und Nacht;
Und die Ruder schlagen leise im Takt.
Balde an verfallener Mauer blühen
Ergrünt so stille die Schläfe des Einsamen.
by George Trakl
Georg Trakl was born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1887, and seems to have been suicidal almost from the moment of his birth. As a young child, he threw himself in the path of a galloping horse; when that failed, he tried to jump in front of a train. A short time later, he walked into a lake and was rescued only when someone noticed his hat floating away. His adolescence and brief adulthood were marked by bouts of serious mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, a possibly incestuous relationship with his sister, and near-constant personal and professional failure. His first book, Gedichte (Poems), was published in 1913. He died a year later in a psychiatric hospital in Krakow where he was sent for observation after nearly suffering a mental collapse. Whether his death was the result of suicide or was an accidental overdose of cocaine is not known. His second book, Sebastian im Traum (Sebastian in Dream), was published posthumously.
Jay Hopler’s poetry, essays, and translations have appeared most recently, or are forthcoming, in The Literary Review, The New Republic, and The New Yorker. Green Squall, his first book of poetry, won the 2005 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His most recent book is Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry (edited with Kimberly Johnson, Yale University Press, 2013). The recipient of numerous honors including fellowships and awards from the Great Lakes Colleges Association, the Lannan Foundation, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts & Letters/the American Academy in Rome, he is Associate Professor of English at the University of South Florida.
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