Poetic Coffee Break

The rather stiff and rigid structure of the “Staatsbibliothek” in Berlin does not yet have a reputation to be a place of poetry, translation of poetry and recitals. This is about to change. As a student, researcher or lecturer I would have adored to see my library proposing a poetic coffee break. I would have gone for the necessary break in the afternoon, the coffee and, okay why not, a poetic experience.  This time it was different. The organisers, “ilb and Stabi” got together and Ursula Jäcker together with Michael Bucher presented poetry from Shakespeare (Sonnet) in English followed by the German translation by Wolf Biermann.
Translating poetry is a very tricky thing. Just try it yourself and you will be full of admiration for the admirable work of translators of words, sentiments, rhyme and rhythms. The presentation of Biermann’s comments on his own work on translating Shakespeare’s sonnets gave interesting additional information on the short and precise English original and the longer, somehow fat translations into German (Biermann’s words). Thanks for the indication that Biermann deviated from the Shakespearean “iambic pentameter” to add a sixth foot most of the time (to be checked OMG). The choice of numbers 6, 18, 27, 66, 73, 76, 121, 147, 154 from the Shakespeare Sonnets were witty and entertaining for a coffee break. For example, from 27:
“And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:…”
Also, from 76:
“Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?”
More than 400 years ago, these rhymes were drafted and still today writers and learners, at the Stabi and beyond, can somehow identify with the intricacies of the process of creative writing.
More of this, we need, today and for tomorrow. THX.

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