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Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in TESOL, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now anatomizing the prosody of E. A. Robinson’s sonnets for his dissertation at Amerika Institut of LMU Munich, where also he edits a poetry weekly. 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 of Review of International American Studies.


The Lute

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Mark Olival-Bartley

I am the lute. Were you to illustrate
my body with its stripes of arching grace,
then speak of me as you would seek to trace
a perfectly ripe fig. Exaggerate
the darkness that you see in me. For there,
the darkness was Tullia’s. At her lips
down there, there wasn’t much—her lightened hair,
a lamp-lit hall that sunshine would eclipse.
She sometimes took into her face some sound
and sang to what my surface was wielding.
At last, my inmost in her was then found
as I made myself taut to her yielding.
Die Laute

von Rainer Maria Rilke

Ich bin die Laute. Willst du meinen Leib
beschreiben, seine schön gewölbten Streifen:
sprich so, als sprächest du von einer reifen
gewölbten Feige. Übertreib

das Dunkel, das du in mir siehst. Es war
Tullias Dunkelheit. In ihrer Scham
war nicht so viel, und ihr erhelltes Haar
war wie ein heller Saal. Zuweilen nahm

sie etwas Klang von meiner Oberfläche
in ihr Gesicht und sang zu mir.
Dann spannte ich mich gegen ihre Schwäche,
und endlich war mein Inneres in ihr.

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