Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929): He and She

Translated by Timothy Adès

Die Beiden

Sie trug den Becher in der Hand
– Ihr Kinn and Mund gleich seinem Rand –
So leicht and sicher war ihr Gang,
Kein Tropfen aus dem Becher sprang.

So leicht and fest war seine Hand:
Er ritt auf einem jungen Pferde,
Und mit nachlässiger Gebärde
Erzwang er, dass es zitternd stand.

Jedoch, wenn er aus ihrer Hand
Den leichten Becher nehmen sollte,
So war es beiden allzu schwer:

Denn beide bebten sie so sehr,
Dass keine Hand die andre fand
Und dunkler Wein am Boden rollte.

Curved her lip, and curved the cup
carried safely in her hand;
sure and easy was her tread,
not a single drop was shed.

Sure and steady was his hand,
and his horse high-spirited;
he with mastery pulled up,
made the startled creature stand.

Did the strong hand grasp the cup
that the fair one offered up?
It was not done easily.

How they trembled, he and she!
Hand by hand was never found,
and the dark wine stained the ground.

Jean Cassou, imprisoned by the Nazis, translated ‘Die Beiden’ into French. For his version, and
for the words of Louis Aragon, please see Jean Cassou, Sonnet 9, Elle et Lui, on this website.
From the book: Jean Cassou, ‘33 Sonnets of the Resistance’, Arc Publications.

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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