- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted October 13, 2011
The poems of the German poet George Trakl (1887-1914) are engaging both for their style and for their subject matter. Trakl's short life ended when he committed suicide in World War I shortly after being assigned to a field hospital and witnessing the War's horrors. Although Trakl's style is plainly not modernist, it is not dated. The imagery from the world of natural is timelessly accessible (e. g., "There is a field of stubble, where a black rain falls./There is a brown tree that stands alone... [from De Profundis (II)].) And such imagery contains psychological states which are the actual subject matter of the poems giving them a relevance and appeal to following generations of modernist readers. Like Nietzsche who sometimes also compressed psychological states and insights into imagery from the world of nature, Trakl was a harbinger of the psychological tone of the developing modernism.
Poet and translator of Spanish poets, Tapscott "wanted to try to register, in English, that droll, ascetic tone" of Trakl's poetry. In this he has succeeded. The translations do capture and convey the "illusion of impersonal depth" of Trakl's poems commented on by Rilke, who was influenced by Trakl's style. Although there are other translations of Trakl's poems, Tapscott "think[s] the time is right for a fresh translation" because there are readers who will like to be exposed to the "strange disciplined pleasure" required for both writing and reading Trakl's poems and for their "egoless Romanticism" after more than a century of modernism's and more lately postmodernism's decades of pastiche, narcissism, distancing irony, et al. One gets the point--though inclusion of the poems in the original German would have allowed readers to assess Tapscott's discernment of the poems and also study his translations.
Though Trakl was not widely recognized in his short lifetime, he did have important supporters who helped to preserve his work. Besides Rilke, there were Ludwig von Ficker, publisher of the influential literary magazine Der Brenner where some of Trakl's poems appeared, and the major modern philosopher Wittgenstein.
Tapscott's nine-page Foreword should be read because it goes beyond the typical biographical background and word on the significance of the poet at hand to dissect Trakl's style and explain the means used for the translations.
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.