Translation from English

Monday, November 24, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ending the Midtown Blogger

For some time now I have felt that the Midtown Blogger has run its course for several reasons.

One is that I no longer live in Midtown Manhattan.

Another is that while keeping some of the elements of MidtownBlogger, I would just like to try something new.

My New Blog is

Thanks to all my readers for following what I have done so far.

Larry Kreger

Poem by Goethe-Unbounded- A.Z.. Foreman for Poems Found in Translation

Poems Found In Translation: “Goethe: Unbounded (From German)”

Link to Poems Found in Translation

Posted: 20 Nov 2014 10:27 AM PST
This poem was originally titled "Hafiz" and is a tribute to the Persian poet whom Goethe, during his oriental phase, loved dearly. Such things are not fashionable to say nowadays, but Goethe actually shows a greater understanding of the character of classical Persian lyric poetry than many western scholars who actually knew Persian. Though perhaps it is simply that Goethe's understanding and appreciation of Hafiz' in all his bacchanalian mysticism and mystical bacchanalianism, is so very like my own. He seems to have perceived in Hafiz many of the same qualities that I do, qualities which so many far more learned in Persian than I have often been deaf to. Goethe even includes a poem in the Divan about the shallowness of those who think it profound to call Hafiz a Sufi Mystic.

In 1813, Goethe had begun to read Hafiz in a recently published German translation by Austrian diplomat and Orientalist Joseph Von Hammer, and felt inspired to imitate him. When he met the beautiful and talented Marianne von Willemer in Wiesenbaden, the two fell in love and found a powerful connection in their shared admiration for Hafiz. In the passionate correspondence that developed between them, Marianne and Goethe would send each other coded messages via numerical reference to Hafiz' lyrics. A great many poems drawing on "the East" for inspiration were born of their fruitful, albeit ephemeral, affair. The end result was Goethe's West-Östlicher Divan "West-Eastern Divan", from which the poem translated here is taken.

The Divan is essentially an imagined and imaginative dialogue between the German poet of Weimar and the Persian poet of Shiraz, a salute to an artist who greatly appealed to Goethe (rather correctly) as an enemy of dogmatism and lover of life's pleasures who prized spiritual experience and disdained religious institution, and in whom he perceived (rather mistakenly) a kind of Persian analogue to Voltaire. 

J.W. Goethe
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

You cannot end, and that's what makes you great.
You've no beginning, and that is your fate. 
So like the vault of stars, your circling song:
The end is the beginning all along,
And what the middle holds for all to see
Preceded all, and after all shall be.

True fount of poets' joy forever new,
Numberless waves on waves flow forth from you!
Lips ever ready for a kiss,
Song of the breast that sweetly wells,
Throat ever parched for drink and bliss,
Good heart that freely pours and tells.

Let this world perish, so I know
I vie with you and only you,
Hafiz! Lets share all joy and woe
As true twin brothers, one from two.
To love and drink as you would do
Shall be my pride and my life too.

Now song with your own fire, ring truer!
For you are older. You are newer.

The Original:

J.W. Goethe

Daß du nicht enden kannst, das macht dich groß,
Und daß du nie beginnst, das ist dein Los.
Dein Lied ist drehend wie das Sterngewölbe,
Anfang und Ende immerfort dasselbe,
Und was die Mitte bringt ist offenbar
Das was zu Ende bleibt und anfangs war.

Du bist der Freuden echte Dichterquelle,
Und ungezählt entfließt dir Well auf Welle.
Zum Küssen stets bereiter Mund,
Ein Brustgesang der lieblich fließet,
Zum Trinken stets gereizter Schlund,
Ein gutes Herz das sich ergießet.

Und mag die ganze Welt versinken!
Hāfis, mit dir, mit dir allein
Will ich wetteifern! Lust und Pein
Sei uns den Zwillingen gemein!
Wie du zu lieben und zu trinken,
Das soll mein Stolz, mein Leben sein.

Nun töne Lied mit eignem Feuer!
Denn du bist älter, du bist neuer.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

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