In a week we’ll be burying my mother’s ashes on Drummond. We’ve decided to read some of her poems, with a translation into English. She published a volume of them in the Wilhelm Andermann Verlag in Vienna in 1944 when she was 21; a miracle, since paper was so rare towards the end of the war. Her friend Stefan Hlawa provided the cover illustration.
A note on translation: With this particular poem I found you really do have to change the sequence of adjectives in English. I also found it interesting to consider the different meanings of “little” and “klein” (descriptive, diminutive, romantic/endearing…) In German, for example, Little Red Riding Hood is simply Rotkäpchen. I briefly considered writing “Tiny ancient god“. Or “Little, ancient god“, after all? Still thinking it over.
My brother Chris first introduced me to the poem when he gave me these, from a cycle he drew in the ’70s, pastels and wash on paper:
Very moving, Anna! Writing is good for the soul and a great healer.
if you don’t mind a suggestion….she wrote them in German, she should hear them in German?
She will! First in German, then in English. We’ll read “Angelus”, too.
Unfortunately, the funeral is off. My oldest brother is in the hospital ER. Big shock.
My second brother said the whole reason to arrange this complicated funeral was for all of us to get together. Which we haven’t managed since the 1970s. Five individualists on separate roads. Wouldn’t be right without him. Muff is already ashes, tidied away. In storage since November. She can wait.
But this doesn’t feel right at all. I mean, you can say “The wedding is off.” But a funeral? How do you like my family, Mr. Death? Go away and come back when we have more time.
Helmut said, “Why don’t you just go over there, hijack the urn, hit the road and bury her next to Jim? Done.”
Can’t do that. I’m one of five.
My fourth brother and I are in supporting roles.
But, but, but: my third brother is there, too. He could use a visit.
So if I went, I would be going for him. Dinner instead of a funeral.
It’s ok, it has to be complete.
I hope your brother is ok.
Yes, he’s in good hands.
Oh, mei / my goodness, I surely hope you manage to make that trip, Anne.
I’m all behind Helmut (good practical Germanic thinking) and I do hope your ‘older’ brother’s doing OK.
Waiting in suspense for the next bit (installment),
Thanks very much, Marisa. I’m very sorry, I overlooked your comment in the backend!
Oh, Anne, I’m so sorry. Maybe you should just go anyway. See your brothers. But don’t hijack the urn. Why don’t you hold a memorial service on the first anniversary. You’ll be thinking of her I’m sure. Hope your brother is doing well.
Thanks a lot Debbie! He seems to be, and if there’s anything to be learned in this, it is to slow down. Life is short. We need to make it sweet.
My brother Chris wrote with an interpretation which I think hits the mark perfectly, saying this god is one only she knows and can experience, he’s “little” because he originates in her soul, the root of her creativity, and creativity mirrors the creator.
So I’ve changed “buried in me, hiding” to “hidden deep down inside me”, and “lonely” to “solitary”.
Muff, I hope you agree.