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Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in Teaching English as a Second Language, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now writing a dissertation on the sonnets of E. A. Robinson at LMU, where he tutors composition alongside editing flyers on poetry and style. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor at Review of International American Studies. He also teaches at Münchner Volkshochschule and leads the Amerikahaus Literaturkreis.


Song of the Women to the Poet

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Mark Olival-Bartley

Look how it all turns out: That’s how we are,
for we are nothing as such bliss beseems.
What had been beastly blood and dark grew far
within us to a soul, and still its screams
reverberate on. And it screams for you.
With just your face, you freely take it in
as soft and selfless as a shepherd’s view.
And that is why we feel it hasn’t been
you for whom it’s screamed. Yet, aren’t you the one
to whom we lost ourselves and all the rest?
And would we be a more to anyone?
With us, the infinite goes onward past.
But you, you mouth, where we hear it expressed,
but you, you sayer unto us: You last.

Gesang der Frauen an den Dichter

von Rainer Maria Rilke

Sieh, wie sich alles auftut: so sind wir;
denn wir sind nichts als solche Seligkeit.
Was Blut und Dunkel war in einem Tier,
das wuchs in uns zur Seele an und schreit

als Seele weiter. Und es schreit nach dir.
Du freilich nimmst es nur in dein Gesicht,
als sei es Landschaft: sanft und ohne Gier.
Und darum meinen wir, du bist es nicht,

nach dem es schreit. Und doch, bist du nicht der,
an den wir uns ganz ohne Rest verlören?
Und werden wir in irgend einem mehr?

Mit uns geht das Unendliche vorbei.
Du aber sei, du Mund, dass wir es hören,
du aber, du Uns-Sagender: du sei.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

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