Rainer Maria Rilke


Autumn Day (Herbsttag)



Added 15 March 2000, Revised 14 November 2009

The poem is first displayed in original German, then followed by a number of translations of the poem.

Herbsttag

Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiel den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.


Rainer Maria Rilke


This translation is by Guntram Deichsel:

Autumn Day

Lord, it is time. Let the great summer go,
Lay your long shadows on the sundials,
And over harvest piles let the winds blow.

Command the last fruits to be ripe;
Grant them some other southern hour,
Urge them to completion, and with power
Drive final sweetness to the heavy grape.

Who's homeless now, will for long stay alone.
No home will build his weary hands,
He'll wake, read, write letters long to friends
And will the alleys up and down
Walk restlessly, when falling leaves dance.


English: (C) Guntram Deichsel. Biberach, Germany 1987/93


This translation is by Dr. Gabriel Pinter:

Autumn Day

LORD, it’s time. The summer overwhelmed us.
Allow your shadow fall on the sundials
and let the winds roam all over the fields.

Command the last fruits: they should fully ripen,
and give them two more southern sunny days,
to reach perfection gathering
the last nectar into the heavy grapes.

Who hasn't built his home yet, he will never build it.
Who maybe alone now, by himself he will be
without sleep, and reading, on long letters musing,
and aimlessly walking on paths nowhere leading
when in withered gardens the dead leaves are dancing.


This translation is by Steven Gerard Wagner:

Autumn Day

Mister! It's time. Summer was awesome.
But now you've got to cast your shadow on the old clock.
So, let the wind blow in the fields.

Command the last fruits to ripen.
Grant them two more southern days.
Press them to perfection.
And chase the last sweetness into the strong wine.

Because whoever has no house now will build no more.
Whoever is alone now will remain long alone
to wake, read, write long letters,
and wander in the alleys, back and forth,
restless, as the leaves flutter.


This translation is by Doug Sutton:

Autumn Day

Lord: it's time. The summer was magnificent.
Lay your shadows upon the sun-dials
and o'er the isles allow your winds to vent.

Command the final fruits to be full and fine;
give them two more days in the southern sun,
push them to completion and then run
the last sweetness through the heavy wine.

He who now has no house, will build one never.
He who is alone, will long so remain,
will awaken, read, lengthy letters pen
and in the lanes will forever
restlessly wander, when the leaves are driven.


This translation is by J. Mullen:

Autumn Day

Lord: it is time. The summer was great.
Lay your shadows onto the sundials
and let loose the winds upon the fields.

Command the last fruits to be full,
give them yet two more southern days,
urge them to perfection, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Who now has no house, builds no more.
Who is now alone, will long remain so,
will stay awake, read, write long letters
and will wander restlessly here and there
in the avenues, when the leaves drift.


(trans. J. Mullen)


This translation is by Edward Snow 1991:

Autumn Day

Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Lay your long shadows on the sundials,
and on the meadows let the winds go free.

Command the last fruits to be full;
give them just two more southern days,
urge them on to completion and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Who has no house now, will never build one.
Who is alone now, will long remain so,
will stay awake, read, write long letters
and will wander restlessly up and down
the tree-lines streets, when the leaves are drifting.


English: (C) Edward Snow 1991


This translation is by Robert Bly:

October Day

Oh Lord, it's time, it's time. It was a great summer.
Lay your shadow now on the sundials,
and on the open fields let the winds go!

Give the tardy fruits the command to fill;
give them two more Mediterranian days,
drive them on into their greatness, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house by now will not build.
Whoever is alone now, will remain alone,
will wait up, read, write long letters,
and walk along sidewalks under large trees,
not going home, as the leaves fall and blow away.


English: (C) Robert Bly 1981


This translation is by M. D. Herter Norton 1938:

Autumn Day

Lord, it is time. The summer was very big.
Lay thy shadow on the sundials,
and on the meadows let the winds go loose.

Command the last fruits that they shall be full;
give them another two more southerly days,
urge them on to fulfillment and drive
the last sweetness into heavy wine.

Who has no house now, will build him one no more.
Who is alone now, long will so remain,
will wake, read, write long letters
and will in the avenues to and fro
restlessly wander, when the leaves are blowing.


English: (C) M. D. Herter Norton 1938


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