Correspondence

Causley at 70

My formal association with Chronicles began in February 1986, when, at the suggestion of its editor, I wrote an obituary of Philip Larkin. Looking back at the history of my loves, I explained that I had decided to buy and edit The Yale Literary Magazine because "my ambition in life was to find the poet born to translate Rilke into English and publish him." At that time, my ambition remained unfulfilled, although its pursuit did lead me to the living wellsprings of English poetry, with Larkin, whom I had discovered in a secondhand bookshop near Amir's Falafel on Broadway, as my forked stick: "The trees are coming into leaf" (the book opened at random) "Like something almost being said."

A few issues back, incidentally, Chronicles fulfilled that ancient ambition of mine by publishing Rilke's "Autumn Day" translated by Alban Coventry. Apart from one or two forgotten translations by Ludwig Lewisohn in the 1940's, this is the only Rilke poem that will live happily ever after in the English language. From Lewisohn's "Angels" (as I remember it), for comparison:

But let the wings be spread.

The ages'

Awakened wind comes

blowing in:

As though God with his

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