My rusty translation, from Disc 3 of Rome’s Die Aesthetik der Herrschaftsfreiheit. As always, I welcome any corrections from native German speakers in the comments.
The Chronicles of Kronstadt
|I sink in the ice of Kronstadt
I lie under the plaster of Paris
I am glued to the walls of Warsaw
I stand petrified in Berlin
I lie in the streets of Barcelona
I fall in a hail of bullets
from the White Guard
I lie in the snow of Petrograd
Lie buried in the forests of Peru
I bleed out in the sands of Spain
I lie on the Ukrainian steppes
I freeze in Siberia
Worn down between Hammer and Cross
I escape over the sea
And I shiver there too
They send me back
They send me away
They ban me
They consoled themselves with safety
Over me away
I’m lying in the port of Odessa
Lying garrotted in Leon
Mauled by the bloodhounds
Of the new order
I flow from torn-out throats
I am the scream
That rises from the steppes
That drifts in from the sea
Too seldom do I urge myself in circles
And even my wish for gentleness
Is drawn from the long struggle
With the brutality
From hiding, from ambush
From the belief and the lie
I speak in an awkward
plethora of voices
I’m rumor, fragment and reason
And now your search leads you to me
In the exile of defeated revolutions
In remote villages
of the French provinces
In Brusselers’ garrets
In attic apartments
In Amsterdam and London
In Barcelona’s backyards
In the barns of Gascony
My tracks are covered
Spare are the remains,
What from brochures and tracts
Leaflets and reportage
Essays and biographies
Speeches and memoirs
I know to report
I lie buried in the bomb shelter
Coded in encryption
And false walls
Hidden behind portraits
In the cellars of the exile
One finds only remnants
of life in the underground
of the immortal camaraderie
What you find written here
Has through a thousand secret
hands been passed
Through generations, throughout
Insights into tradition
In witness reports and decrees
Been passed on in secret
Illegal printed material
in fragile folds
Full of languages believed dead
In occasional hints
Then you will always find
something in my black fabric
That we once encircled everything
Are you looking for the testimonials
of your champion?
All of this may remain only fragmentaryEach remains alone
And yet in every gasp of this
How would you compose me
How, wanderer, do you want
To give me a voice?
To give this smoke form?
To codify this air?
And who will now
Who built finality?
Is it a shame about humanity? Is it?
|Ich versinke im eis von Kronstadt
Ich liege unter dem Pflaster von Paris
Ich klebe an den Mauern Warschaus
Ich steh’ versteinert in Berlin
Ich liege in den Strassen Barcelonas
Ich falle im Kugelhagel
Der weissen Garden
Ich liege im Schnee Petrograds
Lieg’ verscharrt in den Wäldern Perus
Ich verblute in Spaniens Sand
Ich liege in der Ukranischen Steppe
Ich friere in Sibirien
Aufgerieben zwischen Hammer und Kreuz
Ich rette mich übers Meer
Und mich fröstelt es auch dort
Man schickt mich zürück
Man schickt mich fort
Man verbannt mich
Man tröstet sich mit sicherheit
Über mich hinweg
Ich liege im Hafen von Odessa
Liege garrotiert in Leon
Zerfleischt von den Bluthunden
Der neuen Ordnung
Ich fliesse aus aufgebisser Gurgel
Ich bin der Schrei
Der aus der Steppe aufsteigt
Der vom Meer herüberweht
Zu selten dränge ich mich in Zirkeln
Und auch mein freundlichseinwollen
Ist gezeichnet vom langen Kampf
Mit der Brutalität
Vom versteck, vom hinterhalt
Von der Vorstellung und der Lüge
Ich spreche in sperriger
Ich bin Steppenbrand
Bin Gerücht, Teil und Grund
Und nun führt dich deine suche nach mir
In das exil besiegter Revolutionen
In entlegene Dörfer
Der französischen Provinz
In brüsseler Mansarden
In Amsterdam and London
In die Hinterhöfe Barcelonas
In die Scheunen der Gascogne
Meine Spur ist verwischt
Spärlich bleibt das
Was die Bröschuren und Traktate
Flugblätter and Reportagen
Essays und Biografien
Reden und Memoiren
Von mir zu berichten wissen
Ich liege im Bombenkeller verscharrt
In improvisierten Verstecken
Und falschen Wänden
Hinter Portraits versteckt
In den Kellern der Verbannung
Finden sich nur Reste
Vom Leben im untergrund
Von der unsterblichen Kameradschaft
Was du hier gescrieben findest
Ist durch tausend heimliche
Durch Generationen hindurch
In überlieferten Einsichten
In Dekreten und Zeugenberichten
In heimlich weitergereichten
In halb verschollen Zeitungen
In brüchigen Konvoluten
Voll totgeglaubter Buchstaben
In spärlichen Andeutungen
Findet sich dann doch immer noch
Etwas von meinen schwarzen Gewebe
Das uns einst alle umspann
Suchst du nach Zeugnissen
All dies kann nur Fragment bleibenMan bleibt allein
Und doch im jedem Atemzug von dieser
Doch wie willst du mich
In Schrift fassen?
Wie willst du Wanderer
Mir eine Stimme geben?
Diesem Rauch eine form?
Wie diese Luft kodifizieren?
Und wer will nun
Wer Endgültigkeit errichten?
Ist es Schade um die Menschen? Ist es?
Hi. This song has a few parts they are very hard to translate. I’ve done into Spanish (I am german, but live in Spain), and I came here looking for images to make a fan video of this amazing song.
I am to excited right now to correct (just in the sense of helping others to understand the lyrics and the whole song better) some parts of your translation. However it’s quite a good one.
I was also comparing your english version with my spanish one, to help my own translation looking for errors (and sure I could have a few). And I noticed in a quick look, this part:
“Doch wie willst du mich In Schrift fassen?” which you translated in “How do you want me to believe in writing?”, and it’s wrong. It means more “How would you build me in writing”. I am not sure if writing is the best word for it, could be also letters. I hope it helps.
I will have a look later, and thank you very munch for translate it, how I said, it helps me also with my version and my fan video. When I have it finished, I’ll come back here and share it if you’re ok with it.
Obviously I don’t need to say how awesome this song it is!
Just a few corrections.
“Ich falle im Kugelhagel der weissen Garden”. “Garden” is the name in german from a Belarus city (a city that has change from one country to another many times along hundred years) called in english (I guess) “Grodno”.
“Man tröstet sich mit sicherheit über mich hinweg”. I have no idea how to translate this in english. It means something like that they are surely consoled over my own. And with over my own, I mean because I am off, away or whatever. If you understand me, I am sure you could make it by your own. It’s also possible that you translated it right but I am not understanding it because my english is not the best in the world. If so, sorry. 😛
“Ich bin der Schrei” means “I am the shout/scream”. I don’t know why, most translator translate this bad into cry. Very strange.
“Der vom Meer herüberweht”. I would say it’s correct, but changing “in” with “over”. Maybe “drift in” means also over, not sure. My english isn’t the best.
“Zu selten dränge ich mich in Zirkeln”. Again just one word, instead of “drive” it’s more correct “urge”.
“Und auch mein freundlichseinwollen”. Most people hate those long germans words, but I like them, they’re always very full of meaning because mostly are two or three words in one. I would translated it so: “And even my wish for being gentle”.
And just after this, comes “Mit der Brutalität”, and the correct way to translate is “with the brutality” because he’s referred to that wish of being gentle after living the fight and the brutality of itself.
“Bin Gerücht, Teil und Grund”. Better “I’m rumor, part and reason”.
“Und nun führt dich deine suche nach mir”. I would say “And now your search leads you to me”.
“Der französischen Provinz”. The line before and this one it’s related, so you need to say “from the french provinces”. And just after that line, you could use “mansard” instead of attics. And so you have not to repeat it again, I think it was it that sense to use so a strange word (because I think actually in Germany nobody use that word).
I need to make a stop. Here’s too hot (I am from the Canary Island) to being still in front of a screen. I will look again and finish it.
I still think it’s a very good translation. It has helped me correct my spanish one in two or three points! So I am very grateful. But translating from german it’s a very hard job sometimes, overall when you have to take care to not loose any sense of what you’re translating…
Hi Pzin! I really appreciate your taking the time to post this and am glad that my translation can help you. Occasionally I check my translations with an Austrian friend but didn’t want to bug her with this one because I thought it would be too much work. I think a fitting tribute to the work of Rome, and its philosophy, would be “fanslations,” 😉 where fans render its work into every language through a network of discussions about meaning.
In response: though my English idiom is better than yours, my German idiom is poor from only a couple of months’ immersed use, so the probable meaning is somewhere between our interpretations. You know that the direct translation is sometimes clumsy and inexact, so you *try* to reach the sense you believe is behind the words.
I must add that you discerned something in the German that reminds me of Brecht: the line “Und auch mein freundlichseinwollen” reminds me of the spirit of “To Those Born Later,” where Brecht writes (in English translation): “Nonetheless we realize / Even hatred and debasement can distort your features / Even anger at injustices can make your voice hoarse / We who used to hope it created a basis of friendliness / Never could be friendly ourselves.” I don’t have the original German but I suspect this shows some of the inspiration that Rome attributes to Bertolt Brecht.
I will make your suggested changes shortly, and will gladly link to your fan video when it’s done. Thanks again for collaborating!
Hi Pzin! I’m sorry, I don’t feel bad for you that you’re in the Canary Islands! 😉 And in addition to their beauty, they have some historical chapters that resonate with Rome.
I looked over your suggestions again, and agreed with many of them and fixed them. IThe ones I did not I left unchanged because I think my translation was sometimes more idiomatic than literal, hopefully capturing the sense of the phrase even at the expense of precision (for example, “hinweg” works in German but in English would become “over my being away” in that sentence, which I thought better to cut down to “exile,” exile being such a key concept to Rome). I don’t think it matters too much in most cases here, but one phrase in particular I am really not sure about: your idea that “Garden” should be translated as Grodno. How does that explain the “der Weißen Garden” which I would think is the dative of “die Weiße Garden,” the anti-Communist forces who fought the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution? In the dative, the hail of bullets comes from them, which makes more sense to me. What do you think?
I hope to try my hand at one of the “Cross” pieces next, maybe “A Cross of Wheat.” I will always welcome your input, as it will improve my translations and my German since I don’t get to use it often.
I think you’re completely right with the White Guard part. I may confuse it because my grandfather, who “fought” in WWII (he defect the military at some point in the east and was really more looking for food and a place to sleep walking across Europe) told me a few things about Grodno, and also, at that part of the lyrics talking about cities, I really haven’t thought about the White Army.
About the part of “hinweg”, literally if you took it as two words, means “over me away”, translator says away or across (across would be nearly I think). I don’t think translating it with exile would be correct. It changes and at the same time it doesn’t change very munch…
Let me make an example, in german if you say that you talking very bad about a person, I would say more that you are talking very bad OVER a person. And “hinweg” means more that sense of OVER.
And it doesn’t change the meaning very much, because I understand that they are consoled about they were who send him back and away. I don’t know if you could understand the sense I try to give it, because for me it’s better to express myself in Spanish and I may sound sometimes strange in English. 😛
I translated it into Spanish for a two friends. To male them understand the song. And the next one winch I would try is also one of the “Cross” pieces, but in my case it would be “A Cross of Fire” because it talks about the spanish Civil War and it has more interest for spanish people. But I am sure finally I will try to translate the whole german lyrics.
I don’t know if you could have any interest of a micro-website I build a week after I receive the album and I made it public (with the permission of Jerome). It’s a lyric site of the album, but in a very beautiful way, technically and visually. The point is at that time I had a server and was managing a few sites, but now I don’t and it’s really a shame that no one could see that. I will try to publish it or make a video or something that you see how it works. It’s like you were having an online version of the album. Will show you.
Well, I will be back soon for sure.
Hey Pzin, I would love to see that micro-site, or any smaller version thereof. I wish I had the knowledge or hosting to offer, but it sounds like you have a much better grasp of these things than I do. I think it is important for such a presentation as your site to exist, though, because I am certain Rome’s ambiance (I don’t want to say “message”) can only become more meaningful with time. Do you have your Spanish translations online? I’d like to link to them for anyone who speaks Spanish, a language I regret now that I never tried to learn.
Let me make that change to “Über mich hinweg,” and hopefully we’ll be in touch about further translations and documentation.
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