Sprech-Stern, Sprecher des Stern-Bilds (Rilke)

< Previous | Next >

Löwenfrau

Senior Member
Brazilian Portuguese
I'm not sure how to interpret these expressions.

Früher, wie oft, blieben wir, Stern in Stern,
wenn aus dem Sternbild der freiste,
jener Sprech-Stern hervortrat und rief.
Stern in Stern staunten wir,
Er, der Sprecher des Stern-Bilds,
ich, meines Lebens Mund,
Nebenstern meines Augs.
Und die Nacht, wie gewährte sie uns
die durchwachte Verständigung.


They give me the idea that Rilke is talking about stars as signs used by God or by the Universe (Sprecher des Stern-Bilds), signs that he himself long ago used to compreehend and be in harmony with, understanding the sky by sharing the same language. Is that it? If I am correct, by separating the word 'Sternbild' with a dash I think Rilke stresses the fact that the German word for constellation literally means "image-star", "stellar image", "stellar sign", as if it was a sign intended by God/ the Universe. "Sprech-Stern" would in this case mean something like "spelled star"?
 
Last edited:
  • manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    [...]
    wenn aus dem Sternbild der freiste,
    jener Sprech-Stern herfortrat und rief.
    [...]
    I have a hard time wrapping my head around the underlying thoughts, but these 2 lines above, I read relatively literally:
    wenn aus dem Sternbild der freiste [Stern], jener Sprech-Stern herfortrat und rief.

    So, the "freest" star in the formation steps forward and he speaketh. (and that's why Rilke calls him Sprech-Stern [=literally: speaking star]).
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Gruss an alle!

    Anything is possible in poetry.
    Of course this is right. But more importantly, poetry is not just about cognitive sense. It is 'mouth-music'. Listen, even if you do not understand it, to Richard Burton, reading Hopkins (whose poetic and linguistic inventiveness was not far removed from Rilke's):


    Σ
     
    Last edited:

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    But more importantly, poetry is not just about cognitive sense. It is 'mouth-music'.
    Right, but poetry is also not just 'mouth-music' alone. For me, good poetry is the harmony - or sometimes even the explicit, yet coordinated disharmony - between that mouth music, i.e the flow of words, the melody, etc., and the flow of thoughts they stir up because of the semantics and the perceived meaning of the words.

    One of my favorites is Ernst Jandl's 'schtzngrmm' - the word is a distorted version of the word "Schützengraben" (eng. "the trenches"). In my school days it was once recited by my lit-prof in an absolutely amazing way. Even Ernst Jandl's own recital, which can be found on YouTube, is only 1-3% as impressive - and expressive - as my prof did it that day. :p:rolleyes:
    A word of caution, though: most people would probably call this poem schtzngrmm plain nonsense! :D But my stance is, you can't just read it, you have to hear, or better, experience it.

    Snow's version of Sprech-Stern: announcing star
    I'm sorry, I still don't feel it.
    But, don't listen to me! As I said at the beginning, I have a hard time wrapping my head around this poem. I don't know Rilke very well and here I cannot connect to any specific message or mental state that works for me.
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings all round

    @manfry:
    But my stance is, you can't just read it, you have to hear, or better, experience it.
    Fully agreed: I think we are at cross-purposes, actually in vigorous agreement!:) But on a more serious note, I think GMH and Rilke had a lot in common, even if they did not know each other.

    Σ
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I was thinking: wouldn't "speech-star" be the more literal translation of "Sprech-Stern" (in Portuguese that would be something like "estrela-fala")? If this is correct, wouldn't it also be correct to say that "Sprech-" alone does not determine whether the star is itself speaking or spoken? Further in the poem, Rilke uses the clear active "Sprecher" - in "Sprecher des Stern-Bilds". Had he say "Sprecher-Stern" or "Sprechender Stern" I'd have no doubt, but "Sprech-" sounds to me as allowing both interpretations... Besides the fact that it is poetry and "everything is possible in poetry", is my feeling correct? Maybe I made a wrong association between "Sprech" and "Speech"... ? Thanks again.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    I was thinking: wouldn't "speech-star" be the more literal translation of "Sprech-Stern" (in Portuguese that would be something like "estrela-fala")? If this is correct, wouldn't it also be correct to say that "Sprech-" alone does not determine whether the star is itself speaking or spoken?
    I have my doubts with that!
    Google translate claims that estrela=star and falla=speaks; estrela-fala is translated as star-talking or star talk.
    If this is correct then 'speech star' wouldn't work; it should be star speech, isn't it?
    The only interpretations of Sprech-Stern (even within the context of poetry) are "sprechender Stern" and "Sprecher der Sterne [dieser Konstellation]".

    The next lines seem to support this:
    Er, der Sprecher des Stern-Bilds, (he, the speaker of this constellation)
    ich, meines Lebens Mund, (I, the teller of my life[-story])

    This is just my literal interpretation based on grammatical limits in German! Since it's poetry, you can add figurative meaning to this, but unfortunately you cannot just change the literal core meaning to suit your translation, of course. :rolleyes:
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I have my doubts with that!
    Google translate claims that estrela=star and falla=speaks; estrela-fala is translated as star-talking or star talk.
    fala = speaks: this is one of the possible meanings of "fala", yes, but don't trust Google translator, for the word also means the substantive equivalent to German "Rede" and German "Sprache" (See here, for instance:fala - Tradução em alemão – Linguee). What I thought was precisely that Sprech- only refers to the fact that this star is related to language, it is a language-star, be it speaking or spoken.

    The only interpretations of Sprech-Stern (even within the context of poetry) are "sprechender Stern" and "Sprecher der Sterne [dieser Konstellation]".

    The next lines seem to support this:
    Er, der Sprecher des Stern-Bilds, (he, the speaker of this constellation)
    ich, meines Lebens Mund, (I, the teller of my life[-story])
    I disagree that the next lines support this. I don't think that the 'Sprecher des Stern-Bilds' is the Sprech-Stern. On the other hand, if He is the speaker of the constellation, isn't he the speaker of the stars? Maybe he talks through stars, or even he talks stars, stars are his signs, the signs of his language? If that is the case, then the correct translation for Sprech-Stern would be spoken/designed-star...

    but unfortunately you cannot just change the literal core meaning to suit your translation, of course.
    Of course not! All I'm trying to do is to be certain whether Sprech-Stern can be interpreted both ways or not... Opinions seem divided (Scholiast #13).
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top