Here’s my latest translation of one of my favorite Heine poems!
I’ve been working on this translation, off and on, for a few months now, since the original is so songlike. Minnesang, or minnesinging, was, according to Wikipedia, a tradition of lyric and song in the Middle High German period, from around the 12th to the 14th century. Minne, from Middle High German, means love, which was what most of these songs were about. Heine’s poem is about a fictional minnesinging competition, and the toll that singing of love ostensibly demands of the singers.
By: Heinrich Heine,
Translation: Daniel Joslyn
In the singing-competition
Minnesingers take their place
Oh, what a strange exhibition
What a strange showing of face
Wild, foaming Fantasy, they wield
Minnesingers as their steed
And art as their shield is styled
And words are their sword, indeed.
Pretty women gaze, they’re merry
In carpet-clad galleries
No true winner’s here to carry
As his crown true laurel-wreaths
And other kinds of jousters spring
Enjoy hurdles and their life
But as we singers jump, we bring
With us mortal wounds and strife
And the person who’s most able
To squeeze song-blood from their breast
They will win, for all their sable
Prettier praise than all the rest.