Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Friday, August 12, 2022
I recently undertook a translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's poem, "Der Schwan". My intention was to translate it from English into Spanish, but I had some questions about prior English translations, so I set out to understand the poem in its original German. The problem is, aside from "guten Tag", I know very little German. I began with a literal, word-for-word translation from German into English. I then studied many of the German words and their deeper meanings and tried to understand the essence of Rilke's poem. I also sought input from friends who speak German, and I received some wonderful input and feedback. Helge Moulding offered profound advice, explaining that Rilke "stacked" words in German in order to create new words and deeper meanings, which makes some of the translation difficult. Helge also provided input on some of my original word choices. After considering the input I received, I am posting the translation below. That's not to say that it is complete. I am open to further input and revisions. Thanks to all who provided feedback. (Additional note: I know that Rilke used rhythmic meter in the original poem. I am not skilled enough to both rhyme and capture the soul of the poem, so I instead opted for free-verse.)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
(Translation by K. Wasden)
As he toils at tasks left undone,
his steps are heavy and hindered,
like the graceless gait of the Swan.
And dying–that detachment from
the ground on which we daily stand–
he descends apprehensively
into the water that receives him gently,
as it flows past happily
beneath him, wave after wave,
as he, infinitely calm and certain,
evermore ready and regal,
consents to pass.
Saturday, January 15, 2022
Monday, December 13, 2021
Sometimes things just sound better in Spanish.
Un Cuco Común
Soy un cuco común
Destructivo y engañoso,
Inocente por naturaleza.
Mi padre y su familia
Ellos piensan que soy de ellos
A pesar de mi estatura,
A pesar de mi palidez,
A pesar de la prudencia en mis ojos.
La verdad en mi sangre
Dos veces hijo bastardo.
Lo que tengo no es mío,
Y lo que es mío, nunca lo he conocido.
Friday, June 25, 2021
Friday, November 20, 2020
"Sure," he answered timidly.
"T., can I tell you a story?"
"Yeah. I guess."
"Once upon a time . . . " I began, giving myself a moment to gather my thoughts. I was making the story up on the fly. I knew what I wanted to say, but not exactly how. It wasn't going to be a great story, but I pushed forward anyway. ". . . there were two backpackers climbing a mountain. They walked side-by-side, their backpacks filled with a lot of heavy objects. As they climbed, one of the backpackers tired more than the other. He began to take objects out of his own pack and place them in the pack of his companion. Soon his companion's pack was so heavy that he could barely continue and struggled to reach their destination. The end."
T. looked at me as if to say, "that wasn't a very good story."
I smiled and said, "T., can I tell you another story?"
"Um, yes," he said.
"Once upon a time there were two backpackers climbing a mountain . . ."
"Hey, that's the same story," he interjected.
". . . They walked side-by-side, their backpacks filled with a lot of heavy objects. As they climbed, one of the backpackers tired more than the other. The stronger of the two, seeing his friend's struggle, began to take some of the heavy objects out of companion's pack and place them in his own. Together they reached their destination. The end," I concluded. "T, what's the difference in these two stories?"
"Well, in the first one, the backpacker put heavy objects in the other's backpack and made it harder for his companion. In the second story, one backpacker made it easier for the other."
"That's right," I said. "Which type of backpacker do you want to be?"
Recognizing where the conversation was headed, he dropped his head slightly and said, "the one who helps the other."
"T., you have a substitute teacher in your classroom who is doing her best. COVID-19 is placing a heavy burden on our teachers and these substitute teachers are jumping in and trying to help us out. Are you increasing her burden or trying to reduce it?"
He knew the answer.
I followed up with the substitute teacher the next day and was informed that T. had done much better the remainder of the day and into the next.
Obviously, I'm not a great story-teller, but what I want to share from this experience is this: as teachers and administrators, we need to remember that every opportunity to punish is actually an opportunity to teach.
I believe our students, almost without exception, want to do what is right, but sometimes they just need a gentle reminder.
Saturday, June 20, 2020
by Kevin Wasden
© June 2020
I am a common cuckoo
My father and his family
The truth in my blood
And that which is mine I’ve never known.