13 July 2012

A Park by the Rhine / In a Park by the Rhine / В прирейнском парке

Colonia, Nurnberg, Koberger 1493

A Park by the Rhine
For Vladimir Maksimov

I’m fashioned so I find absurd
a melody that has no words.
Vladimir Ufliand

A band in a park, dividing the spoils.
Conductor with baton making his points
as to which note should be taken by what:
this one bassoon, that clarinet,
this to the trumpet, that to the horn;
tuba, what’s left is for you, old son.

Under the vault of hornbeam and beech
heaping the ill-gotten musical leaves:
black ones from Wagner, red ones from Liszt,
yellow from Mendelssohnorous trees.
A harmony-overload cretin,
you start crediting Marx and Lenin.

Sounds without sense. The very pitfall
Nietzsche forewarned about, as we recall:
‘Schubert and Schumann! Achtung! Achtung!
Subverting the will with harmonious junk!
Gents, this sweet song ohne Worte
steals you away, aber where to?’

This park with its music and strolling crowds
figures the Gulag. True, if strange:
my hands itch to roll out the barrow,
my heart echoes pounding of spades.
My soul, you have sold the pass
for a handout of sounding brass!

(Translation © G.S. Smith)

In a Park by the Rhine
To V. Maksimov

I am not fashioned of such whey and curds                        
As to understand a melody without words.
V. Ufliand                      

In the park the orchestra was working on the arrangement.
The conductor waves his baton at them,
allotting one note after the other:
this one to the clarinet, and that one to the bassoon,
this one to the french horn, and that one to the trumpet,
and what is left over to you, tuba.

In the park, under the arches of hornbeams and beeches
accumulate mountains of amassed sounds:
the black of wagner, the red of liszt,
yellow from the meddlesome trees;
you’re turning into a socialist,
stupified by their abundance.

The sounds have no meaning. But
remember, Nietzsche already warned us about that:
“Ah, gentlemen, Schubert and Schumann anesthetize
you with this harmonious noise,
the sweet song without words, gentlemen,
carries you away, but where to?”

In the park filled with music, amid the crowds of flaneurs
flashes the gulag, sound and steady,
hands itching to grab the wheelbarrow,
the shovel’s slap echoes ever louder in your heart.
What’s with you, spirit, you’ll sell me
for a simple tip of buzzing copper?

“liszt” is a homonym of the Russian “list” (“leaf”).
“meddlesome”: original is “medlennosonnykh” (“slow-dreaming”), a near-homonym of “Mendelsohn”.

(Translation © H. Pickford)

В прирейнском парке
В. Максимову

Я вылеплен не из такого теста,
чтоб нонимать мелодию без текста.
В. Уфлянд

В парке оркестр занялся дележом.
Палочкой машет на них дирижер,
распределяет за нотою ноту:
эту кларнету, а эту фаготу,
эту валторне, а эту трубе,
то, что осталось, туба, тебе.

В парке под сводами грабов и буков,
копятся горы награбленных звуков:
черного вагнера, красного листа,
желтого с медленносонных дерев –
вы превращаетесь в социалиста,
от изобилия их одурев.

Звуки без смысла. Да это о них же
предупреждал еще, помнится, Ницше:
“Ах, господа, гармоническим шумом
вас обезволят Шуберт и Шуман,
сладкая песня без слов, господа,
вас за собой поведет, но куда?”

В парке под музыку в толпах гуляк
мерно и верно мерцает гулаг,
чешутся руки схватиться за тачку,
в сердце все громче лопаты долбеж.
Что ж ты, душа, за простую подачку
меди гудящей меня продаешь?

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