Thursday, April 27, 2006

Friedrich Rückert’s “Anrufung Śiva’s”

I chanced upon a volume of Friedrich Rückert’s (1788–1866) “virtuoso” translation of the Amaruśataka in the Berkeley University Library and could not resist spending some time reading through it. Rückert seems largely forgotten by posterity, most will probably only be familiar with a few of Rückert’s (allegedly jinxed) Kindertotenlieder set by Mahler. Click for more...

On the face of it, Rückert’s attempt to write German translations imitating the metrical patterns of Sanskrit is so fantastic that one is indeed tempted simply to repeat the unkind slur based on his name (verrückert!) and forget about the matter. But in fact, some of his verses struck me as being rather brilliant. The non-casual reader, familiar with the original Sanskrit, will probably concede that this translation of the famous second maṅgala verse of the Amaruśataka is really quite successful:

2. Anrufung Śiva’s

Der weggeschleudert and die Hand sich hangende,
Zurückgestoßen schmiegende sich ans Gewand,
Haar fassend weggedrängte, Fuß-umfangende,
Nicht mehr gesehen dann, weil die Besinnung schwand;
Der von den Mädchen Tripura’s mit Schaudermut
Umarmend abgeschüttelte, mit Tränenflut
Zurückgewiesne Werber, ungedämpfter Glut,
Verbrenn er eure Sünden, Śiva’s Rohrpfeilbrand!

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