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The Swan Analysis



Author: poem of Rainer Maria Rilke Type: poem Views: 31

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This laboring through what is still undone,

as though, legs bound, we hobbled along the way,

is like the akward walking of the swan.



And dying-to let go, no longer feel

the solid ground we stand on every day-

is like anxious letting himself fall



into waters, which receive him gently

and which, as though with reverence and joy,

draw back past him in streams on either side;

while, infinitely silent and aware,

in his full majesty and ever more

indifferent, he condescends to glide.





Translated by Stephen Mitchell






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

Hi Mel,Thanks for your email. I'll respond to it in a menmot. I followed the link you sent to this blog and couldn't keep from reading about Dan. When I saw his picture, I cried. He and I were friends for years and we were close, deep in partnership around the Gospel. I felt like I lost him before he died, but you know some of that story. But I did love him as men who are close to one another do and I have missed him. So reading your words and seeing the pictures just got to me.

| Posted on 2013-11-18 | by a guest


.: :.

Hi Mel,Thanks for your email. I'll respond to it in a mmnoet. I followed the link you sent to this blog and couldn't keep from reading about Dan. When I saw his picture, I cried. He and I were friends for years and we were close, deep in partnership around the Gospel. I felt like I lost him before he died, but you know some of that story. But I did love him as men who are close to one another do and I have missed him. So reading your words and seeing the pictures just got to me. x x

| Posted on 2013-11-15 | by a guest


.: :.

Thrilled, as always, to see a new post from you. I got excteid as I read about your travelling journal as I wondered if we could do something like that virtually' with a group of women?? It might be a fun and different way to interact with people that are separated by geography,I look forward to your insightful entries and hope that you move on from your Groundhog Day and return to sharing your view of life with your readers. Terri Maracle

| Posted on 2013-11-15 | by a guest


.: :.

Thank you, too, Terri. As I remarked to the other Terri in my life, my sisetr (I have at least three, though you and she are i), your comments are grease to the rusty writing wheel.You've got a wonderful idea. May I sit with this there's a way with google docs and a google share site that would allow more than text. I'll chat with my colleagues to see what they'd suggest and get back to you via email. I'll be using the concept in real time at my women's retreat the end of May, too. Happy day

| Posted on 2013-11-14 | by a guest


.: :.

There is a better translation availiable by Robert Bly.
This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.
And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.

| Posted on 2010-07-18 | by a guest


.: :.

While Mitchell's translation of "The Swan" is probably the best one available, it is still only a shadow of what I think is one of the most beautiful poems ever written. I will try to show the magic in Rilke's language by going word by word through the original, giving the different possible literal translations, and adding a few comments.
First though, this is the poem in it's entirety:
Der Schwan
Diese Mühsal, durch noch Ungetanes
schwer und wie gebunden hinzugehn,
gleicht dem ungeschaffnen Gang des Schwanes.
Und das Sterben, dieses Nichtmehrfassen
jenes Grunds, auf dem wir täglich stehn,
seinem ängstlichen Sich-Niederlassen:
in die Wasser, die ihn sanft empfangen
und die sich, wie glücklich und vergangen,
unter ihm zurückziehen, Flut um Flut;
während er unendlich still und sicher
immer mündiger und königlicher
und gelassener zu ziehn geruht.
Rainer Maria Rilke
So let's get to the analysis:
1. Der Schwan
The Swan

Comment:
Well, no problem here with the translation.
2. Diese Mühsal,
This travail/hardship
durch noch Ungetanes
through things that are still undone
schwer
heavy/difficult/hard
und wie gebunden
and as if bound
hinzugehn,
to go/walk
gleicht dem ungeschaffnen Gang des Schwanes.
is like the >uncreated< walking of the swan.

Comment:
What is this "hardship, to go, as if bound, through
things still undone"? It's living, of course. And
living, Rilke says, is like the >ungeschaffnen<
walking of a swan. There is no adequate translation
for this word. Mitchell choses x jenes Grunds, auf dem wir täglich stehn,
of the ground we stand on every day
seinem ängstlichen
his anxious/fearful
Sich-Niederlassen:
>settling-himselfsettling downtaking a seat<
Comment:
Rilke does magic with the German language: Take
three simple words: >nichtmehrfassen< - put
them all together, and you have the most amazing
noun!
4. in die Wasser, die ihn sanft empfangen
into waters, that receive him gently
und die sich, wie glücklich und vergangen,
and which, as if happy and long passed by,
unter ihm zurückziehen, Flut um Flut;
give way beneath him, wave by wave;
Comment:
Notice that the word >glücklich< is much heavier
than >happyglücklichat easemove away< he condescends.

| Posted on 2009-01-02 | by a guest




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