Memory of Marie A by Bertolt Brecht

26 11 2012

I came across this lovely poem by German playwright, poet and theater director Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) on many websites and the translation from German to English wasn’t the same on any of the sites, but this was my favorite that I wanted to share. Accompanying his poem is my photo of a lone cloud over Garvan Woodland Gardens in Arkansas.

Memory of Maria A

One day in blue-moon September,
Silent under a plum tree,
I held her, my silent pale love
in my arms like a fair and lovely dream.
Above us in the summer skies,
Was a cloud that caught my eye.
It was so white and high up,
and when I looked up, it was no longer there.

And since that moment, many a September
Came sailing in, then floated down the stream.
No doubt the plum trees were cut down for timber
And if you ask what happened to my dream
I shall reply: I cannot now remember
Though what you have in mind I surely know.
And yet her face: I really don’t recall it.
I just recall I kissed long ago.

Even the kiss would have been long forgotten
If that white cloud had not been in the sky.
I know the cloud, and shall know it forever,
It was pure white and, oh, so very high.
Perhaps the plum trees still are there and blooming.
Perhaps that woman has six children too.
But that white cloud bloomed only for a moment:
When I looked up, it vanished in the blue.

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6 responses

27 11 2012
Dina

The most famous poem from B.Brecht, how lovely! Klausbernd Vollmar ist a specialist on Brecht and as I once tried to read Brecht in English, he meant the whole rhythm and the beauty of the language disappears. This sounds quite fine to me, I’ll show it to him.
You have a very nice blog!
Best regards
Dina

27 11 2012
kbvollmarblog

As a former Brecht-specialist you can read about Brecht and his love poems on my blog http://kbvollmarblog.wordpress.com too. I visited Brecht`s birthplace and museum in Augsburg a month ago. Dina shows her pics on my blog. Two weeks earlier I have been to Buckow where Brecht wrote his late lyrics, the “Buckower Elegien” (I did write my thesis about these poems) and last not least I visited Brecht`s and Weigel`s grave in Berlin – very ascetic, indeed.
Greeting from the North-Norfolk coast
Klausbernd
Oh, by the way, I should have mentioned it: All these articles are German.

27 11 2012
cindydyer

Thanks, Dina and Klausbernd. I’m sorry to report that this was the first time I had read anything by Brecht and it was so beautiful that I was compelled to share. I’ll certainly check out your blogs, too, to learn more about him. If you’d like to share photos from his birthplace and museum, I would love to do a follow-up posting about him. Anything you’d like to share (including excerpts from your thesis), I would love to post!

28 11 2012
sharoncrouch

The memory like a moment frozen in time.

5 03 2016
Jan

This is VERY bad translation. It manages to turn a great poem full of subtleties into sentimental crap. (Starting point if you want to think: 4th line from the top in the last block – “For it was white and drifted down like snow.” SNOW. COLD. WINTER. DEATH. Word play “weiss”.
Another thing – at the top you say the plum trees were cut down. Later on you say they bloom. They cannot do both.
These are just two things. There are many.
Stay away from translating Brecht. You destroy it.

16 05 2017
cindydyer

FYI, I did not do any translating. I was simply sharing something beautiful that I found. I didn’t take the time to dissect it to find discrepancies and I certainly don’t know how to translate in a language that I don’t know. In the future, you could be a tad nicer when educating someone when you’re the expert and they are not. I’m an artist and I love all things beautiful. There are better ways of educating someone than telling them they destroyed something.

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