Translations and Adaptations from Heine
by Ezra Pound
[from Personæ, 1926]
From “Die Heimkehr”
Is your hate, then, of such measure?
Do you, truly, so detest me?
Through all the world will I complain
Of how you have addressed me.
O ye lips that are ungrateful,
Hath it never once distressed you,
That you can say such awful things
Of any one who ever kissed you?
So thou hast forgotten fully
That I so long held thy heart wholly,
Thy little heart, so sweet and false and small
That there’s no thing more sweet or false at all.
Love and lay thou hast forgotten fully,
And my heart worked at them unduly.
I know not if the love or if the lay were better stuff,
But I know now, they both were good enough.
Tell me where thy lovely love is,
Whom thou once did sing so sweetly,
When the fairy flames enshrouded
Thee, and held thy heart completely.
All the flames are dead and sped now
And my heart is cold and sere;
Behold this book, the urn of ashes,
Tis my true love’s sepulchre.
I dreamt that I was God Himself
Whom heavenly joy immerses,
And all the angels sat about
And praised my verses.
The mutilated choir boys
When I begin to sing
Complain about the awful noise
And call my voice too thick a thing.
When light their voices lift them up,
Bright notes against the ear,
Through trills and runs like crystal,
Ring delicate and clear.
They sing of Love that’s grown desirous,
Of Love, and joy that is Love’s inmost part,
And all the ladies swim through tears
Toward such a work of art.
This delightful young man
Should not lack for honourers,
He propitiates me with oysters,
With Rhine wine and liqueurs.
How his coat and pants adorn him!
Yet his ties are more adorning,
In these he daily comes to ask me:
“Are you feeling well this morning?”
He speaks of my extended fame,
My wit, charm, definitions,
And is diligent to serve me,
Is detailed in his provisions.
In evening company he sets his face
In most spirituel positions,
And declaims before the ladies
My god-like compositions.
O what comfort is it for me
To find him such, when the days bring
No comfort, at my time of life when
All good things go vanishing.
TRANSLATOR TO TRANSLATED
O Harry Heine, curses be,
I live too late to sup with thee!
Who can demolish at such polished ease
Philistia’s pomp and Art’s pomposities!
Song from “Die Harzreise”
I am the Princess Ilza
In Ilsenstein I fare,
Come with me to that castle
And we’ll be happy there.
Thy head will I cover over
With my waves’ clarity
Till thou forget thy sorrow,
O wounded sorrowfully.
Thou wilt in my white arms there
Nay, on my breast thou must
Forget and rest and dream there
For thine old legend-lust.
My lips and my heart are thine there
As they were his and mine.
His? Why the good King Harry’s,
And he is dead lang syne.
Dead men stay alway dead men.
Life is the live man’s part,
And I am fair and golden
With joy breathless at heart.
If my heart stay below there,
My crystal halls ring clear
To the dance of lords and ladies
In all their splendid gear.
The silken trains go rustling,
The spur-clinks sound between,
The dark dwarfs blow and bow there
Small horn and violin.
Yet shall my white arms hold thee,
That bound King Harry about.
Ah, I covered his ears with them
When the trumpet rang out.
And have you thoroughly kissed my lips;
There was no particular haste,
And are you not ready when evening’s come?
There’s no particular haste.
You’ve got the whole night before you,
In an uninterrupted night one can
Get a good deal of kissing done.