Slicing time: 1/4000 of a Second

July 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Who would have imagined that we could break up Time?

That we could capture what is unseen to the naked eye?

Each.  Tiny.  Fraction of Time.  Matters.

Alan's Camera captured this from a fountain at 1/4000 sec.

And apropos of nothing (except the concept of Time, TS Eliot’s kind of time), I’ve been thinking of translating Goethe’s famous lyric poem, well, the most famous lyric poem in all of German literature.

First a timely quote from Eliot:

….. As we grow older
the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).

The evening with Alan‘s photograph album… And so… back to Goethe, a Romantic poet, so different from Eliot, who always must lead us into the darkest dark.  But I digress…

Goethe’s Wandrers Nachtlied. Literally, “Wayfarer’s Night Song.”   What we would call a “Lullaby.”   Should I call it Hiker’s Lullaby?   Trekker’s Lullaby?  Both would be accurate.  But I’ve settled on Pilgrim’s Lullaby, because I think this title provides a deeper connotation for what I see in the poem.

The German has very few lines.  And few syllables in each line.  I’ve tried to follow that pattern.  As well as to keep to the simplicity of words, the directness of language.  All to hint at an atmosphere the poem conveys.

So here goes…

Pilgrim’s Lullaby                                                                              

Repose nestles over the hilltops.

Hardly a breath rustles the trees.

Birdsong’s hush quiets the woodland.

Bide your time.  Soon…

You’ll rest in peace too.

Strictly speaking, the second line should end in the word “treetops” – but so as not to repeat “tops” and to limit the number of syllables, I took a bit of liberty.


In case you know German, here’s the Original.  I memorized it so long ago…

Über allen Gipfeln
Ist Ruh,
In allen Wipfeln
Spürest du
Kaum einen Hauch;
Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.
Warte nur, balde
Ruhest du auch.

The rhyme scheme is exquisite.   Schubert set it to music.


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