Another Evening with Georg Trakl


Koloman Moser. ‘Semmeringlandschaft bei Sonnenuntergang’, 1913.

In 1912, Georg Trakl re-enlisted in the Austrian army and was assigned to serve as a pharmacist at a hospital in Innsbruck. There he became involved with the local artistic community and became the protegé of Ludwig von Ficker, editor of the literary journal ‘Der Brenner’. Von Ficker published many of Trakl’s poems, helped secure for him the anonymous financial assistance of the wealthy Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and began to seek a publisher for a larger collection of poems. These efforts led to the publication in 1913 of Trakl’s ‘Gedichte’ (‘Poems’), by Kurt Wolff Verlag in Leipzig. It was in ‘Der Brenner’, which began the Kierkegaard revival in German-speaking Europe, that the poem I have translated here first appeared. Trakl’s original text follows my new English translation.



With dead heroic figures
You fill the silent woods,
O Moon,
O sickle moon–
With the gentle embrace
Of lovers,
The shadows of eminent times,
The mouldering cliffs around;
So bluish it shines
Toward the city there,
Where cold and evil
A rotting race lives,
And a dark future readies
For innocent heirs.
You moon-entwined shadows,
Breathing a sigh
In the empty crystal of mountain lake.


Der Abend

Mit toten Heldengestalten
Erfüllst du Mond
Die schweigenden Wälder,
Mit der sanften Umarmung
Der liebenden,
Den Schatten berühmter Zeiten
Die modernden Felsen rings;
So bläulich erstrahlt es
Gegen die Stadt hin,
Wo kalt und böse
Ein verwesend Geschlecht wohnt,
Der weißen Enkel
Dunkle Zukunft bereitet.
Ihr mondverschlungnen Schatten
Aufseufzend im leeren Kristall
Des Bergsees. 



One comment on “Another Evening with Georg Trakl

  1. dappled says:

    So glad your fine translations have this forum. The paintings you find to accompany them are fascinating and new to me, and a little thrilling.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s