Roses translated

A room of Cy Twombly’s ‘Roses’ at the Museum Brandhorst (May 2011).  The paintings incorporate quotations from poems by Ingeborg Bachmann, Emily Dickinson, T S Eliot et al.  One includes the whole of Rilke’s epitaph in English translation, with a twist: Twombly changes the final word, substituting ‘petals’ for ‘lids’.  So the painted poem reads:

Rose,
O pure
Contradiction,
the desire
to be no one’s
Sleep
under so many
Petals

The wall label notes the substitution, and that the original word in German had been ‘Lidern’.  It then provides the painted poem in German:

Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust,
Niemandes Schlaf zu sein unter soviel
Blütenblättern

‘Lidern’, the sound of a soft closing, almost a turning in.  ‘Blütenblättern’, less like ‘petals’ (splattering, battering, raining earth…)

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