Heine: "We sat by the fisherman's cottage" (From German)

This poem is somewhat bizarre to me, as bizarre as 19th century racial ideas are annoying. I am not sure what motivated me to translate it (I unearthed this translation of mine from a folder on my computer containing stuff I did in, and have not looked at since, highschool.) Possibly the fact that it doesn't seem to take itself very seriously.  

"We sat by the fisherman's cottage..."
By Heinrich Heine
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

We sat by the fisherman’s cottage
And stared across the tide.
The evening mists were brewing
And rising high and wide.

The lamps up in the lighthouse
Were turned on, one by one,
And off on the far horizon
A ship appeared, alone.

We spoke then of storm and shipwreck,
Of sailors and life at sea,
And how between heavens and waters
His fears and joys float free.

We spoke of distant shorelines
In southern and northern air,
And of the curious peoples
And curious customs there:

The Ganges all fire and fragrance
Where mighty trees loom up
And quiet beautiful people
Kneel to the Lotus cup.

In Lappland the people are dirty,
Flat-headed, wide-mouthed, and short
They sit by the campfire baking
Their fish as they squall and snort.

The maidens listened in earnest
Then nobody spoke anymore,
The ship was seen no longer
For darkness had covered the shore.


The Original:

Wir saßen am Fischerhause,
Und schauten nach der See;
Die Abendnebel kamen,
Und stiegen in die Höh’.

Im Leuchtturm wurden die Lichter
Allmählich angesteckt,
Und in der weiten Ferne
Ward noch ein Schiff entdeckt.

Wir sprachen von Sturm und Schiffbruch,
Vom Seemann, und wie er lebt,
Und zwischen Himmel und Wasser
Und Angst und Freude schwebt.

Wir sprachen von fernen Küsten,
Vom Süden und vom Nord,
Und von den seltsamen Völkern
Und seltsamen Sitten dort.

Am Ganges duftet’s und leuchtet’s,
Und Riesenbäume blühn,
Und schöne, stille Menschen
Vor Lotosblume knien.

In Lappland sind schmutzige Leute,
Plattköpfig, breitmäulig und klein;
Sie kauern ums Feuer und backen
Sich Fische, und quäken und schrein.

Die Mädchen horchten ernsthaft,
Und endlich sprach niemand mehr;
Das Schiff war nicht mehr sichtbar,
Es dunkelte gar zu sehr.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share it