[PW] verifying line in a translation of Rilke?

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Thu Oct 29 13:57:55 PDT 2015

Kevin O'Kelly scripsit:

> A friend of mine recalls reading a translation of Rilke's "Day in Autumn"
> that contains the line, ""He who is alone will always be alone."

If it exists, it is a grotesque mistranslation.  The German text says
"Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben" which means "Whoever is
alone now will remain so for a long time".

> Can anyone verify that a translation with the line as my friend remembers
> it exists?

I note that the translation by Mary Kinzie at
<http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/181335> says
"who lives alone will live indefinitely so", which is a little closer
to your version semantically.  Perhaps "lange" will bear the reading "
indefinitely" in poetry, but not "always".

Disclaimer: A native speaker of German should look at this.

John Cowan          http://www.ccil.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
The first thing you learn in a lawin' family is that there ain't
no definite answers to anything.  --Calpurnia in To Kill A Mockingbird

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