Editing poetry: (Inspired by ‘the swan’)

The Swan is a poem by Rilke, which is rarely well translated. Here is the translation I like best, unfortunately I can’t find the book it comes from right now.

This drudgery of trudging through tasks
Yet undone, heavily, as if bound,
Is like the swan’s not fully created walking.

And dying, this no longer being able
To hold to the ground we stand on every day,
Like the swan’s anxious letting himself down – :

Into the waters, which gently accept him
And, as if happy and already in the past,
Draw away under him, ripple upon ripple,
While he, now utterly quiet and sure
And ever more mature and regal
And composed, is pleased to glide.

And my own tribute or tributary…

The opening of your mouth
Is slow absolution
The descent of the electromagnet
Before the frenzied waveforms
Of speech pin me to
A butterfly board
The arc of your smile
Is like the jaws closing
And buckling me
As if I was hinged in
Steel at the knees,
The darkness flows in
Like cackling resin.


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