Georg Trakl’s ‘Spiritual Twilight’

Image

Edvard Munch. ‘Moonlight’, 1893. Oil on canvas, 93 x 110 cm. National Gallery, Oslo.

Here, followed by Georg Trakl’s German text,  is my new English translation of the poem ‘Spiritual Twilight’ (‘Geistliche Dämmerung’). It was first published as part of the collection entitled ‘Sebastian im Traum’, by Kurt Wolff Verlag, Leipzig, 1915. An earlier and in some ways very different version of this poem, ‘Am Hügel’ (‘On the Hill’), was found among Trakl’s papers after his death.

 

Spiritual Twilight

Dusky prey in silence appears
At the forest’s edge;
Softly the wind of evening dies on the hill.

The plaint of the blackbird is muted,
And the gentle flutes of Autumn
Are stilled in the reeds.

On a blackened cloud
You sail, drunk with poppies,
The pond of the night,

The heaven of stars.
The lunar voice of the sister resounds forever
Through the spiritual night.

 

Geistliche Dämmerung

Stille begegnet am Saum des Waldes
Ein dunkles Wild;
Am Hügel endet leise der Abendwind,

Verstummt die Klage der Amsel,
Und die sanften Flöten des Herbstes
Schweigen im Rohr.

Auf schwarzer Wolke
Befährst du trunken von Mohn
Den nächtigen Weiher,

Den Sternenhimmel.
Immer tönt der Schwester mondene Stimme
Durch die geistliche Nacht. 

 

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