Twin Spin (Shakespeare’s Sonnets)

Ulrike Draesner’s ‘radical translations’ (seventeen of which were published in: to change the subject, Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2000) were prompted by news of Dolly, the cloned lamb. In ‘Twin Spin’, the dialogue of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, with their immortality-seeking, self-swapping subjects, continues in a near-future scenario, drenched in artificial light, among clones – post-reproductive, post-human beings – and clone-makers. The technological sublime is a recurrent, dystopian theme in Draesner’s poetry and fiction. The feasibility of replicating artefactual ‘dividuals’ threatens to abolish ‘natefactuality’ – difference engendered in natural, sexual generation(s) – and the beauty of ‘imperfect’, unforeseen recombinations. Such seems to be the power-dream of the medico-military-industrial complex. Transplanting the poems back into English, I try to preserve/persevere with Draesner’s procedures of playfully misconstruing meanings, recombining letters, mimicking genetic translation/transcription errors (and/DNA); if not quite to her ill-imitable degree.Tom Cheesman

die stunden, die mit weichem mull den rahmen spannten
deines blicks, in dem so gern ein fremdes auge schwimmt,
werden die transplanteure geben, als sich, an dich,
und ausgeleuchtet wird, was das leuchtendste übertraf:
die in atomen tickende zeit überführt den sommer
in strahlenderen winter, und zergründet ihn dort:
saft, im kühlschrank erstarrt, fleischige membranen, welk,
schönheit überkrustet von frost, nacktheit, an jedem ort:
stünde dann nicht das destillat des sommers im fach,
flüssiger gefangener zwischen wänden und gas,
wäre die fruchtblase der schönheit durch schönheit zerstoben
weder sie, noch erinnerung bliebe, daran, was war.
aber blumenartiges, extrahiert, in den winter geschoben,
schwappt als zellcode, milchiger saft, die zukunft ans glas.

those hours that spun soft gauze to frame your gaze

in which an alter eye so gladly swims
will gift the transplanters, as themselves, to you,
arc-lighting what out-shone the fullest flood;
in atoms ticking time renders over summer
to glow-in-the-darker winter, and there unbases it:
juice, rimed in the fridge, tissuey membranes, perishing,
beauty hoar-crusted, nakedness in each space:
stood the distillate of summer not in the chill-box then,
a liquid kept prisoner by walls and coolant gas,
were beauty’s uberty to ‘ve been by beauty vaporized,
neither it nor memory ‘d be left of what was.
but flower-like-ness, extract of, rammed into the wintry freeze,
sloshes as cell-code, milky juice, the future against the glass.

Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,
Will play the tyrants to the very same
And that unfair which fairly doth excel;
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter, and confounds him there;
Sap checked with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o’er-snowed and bareness every where:
Then were not summer’s distillation left,
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty’s effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was:
But flowers distill’d, though they with winter meet,
Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.
mein auge hat sich zum agenten des silbers gemacht, die konturen
deiner helligkeit auf die bromoxide meines innersten receivers geprägt;
mein körper ist der rahmen, der dieses negativ hält,
entfernung und schnitt heißen die kunst dessen, der filmt.
denn durch den, der die kamera führt, bemerke das kleben des auges,
in der beobachterabhängigen welt, unter der dein wirkliches bild begraben liegt
und lügt, es, der hund, der im schnellimbiß meiner brust den schwanz reckt,
die teleschirme seiner augen überzogen mit deinem aufnahmegesicht.
nun schau, wieviele gute drehs augen für augen gemacht haben:
meine augen haben deine dna-linie entrollt, und deine sind
die cyberfenster meiner brust, durch die die halogene der
op-sonnen ihre peep-show halten, und dadurch in dich schaun;
doch augen bewegen ihr wollen zu künstlichen kronen, töricht,
halten sie fest, was sie sehen, kennen das unbelichtete nicht.

my eye became silver’s agent, fixing your brightness-

contours onto my innermost receptor’s bromoxide;
this negative, my body frames and montages it,
cutting out and to being the quick of the film-maker’s art.
for through the cameraman’s, the eye, d’you see, ‘s stuck fast
in the world of observer-dependency, beneath which your image, the true
one, lies, cur, rod-tailed in the snack-bar of my breast yet,
its eyes’ hdtv screens glazed with your picturing look.
just see how many tricks eyes have turned for eyes:
mine have untangled the line of your dna, and your eyes are
the windows (© microsoft) of my breast, through which the o.t.’s
halogen suns perform their peep-show, peeking in at you;
yet eyes their wanting draw toward coronas artificed,
they capture but the seen, what’s unlit gets missed.
Mine eye hath play’d the painter and hath steel’d,
Thy beauty’s form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein ’tis held,
And perspective it is best painter’s art.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictur’d lies,
Which in my bosom’s shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art,
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.
wenn, ausgespuckt vom glück, kriechend vor menschlichen
augen, allein, ich, meine verwerfungen bewein’,
und den krebsstrahlenden deckel der welt mit meinen
unbootbaren schreien in betrieb setze,
und mich selbst ansehe, und mich verfluche, wenn ich
mich mir wünsche wie ihn, um eine hoffnung reicher,
mit zügen wie er, wie er von freunden besetzt,
des einen können begehre, des anderen spielprogramm,
mit dem, was ich am meisten genieße, am unzufriedensten, ich;
denke ich bei diesen selbstverachtungsgedanken dann
verschlagen-zufällig an dich – sofort singt
mein zustand (wie die condor am anbruch des tages
vom asphalt hebt) hymnen vor diesem cybertelefon;
erinnerung an deine zukünftige liebe bringt mir die jetons
eines selbst, das ich mit dir gern tauschte, mein königsich, mein glasstabklon.

when, stuck in luck’s spittoon, in people’s eyes

a worm, alone, me, for my being cast down, i weep,
and boot the failed sarcoma-glowing sieve above the world with my
404 cries, and look at myself, and curse me, when i’m
wishing me a me like him, one hope the richer,
with looks like him, like him beset with friends,
craving this one’s skills, and that one’s game software,
what i get most out of least enjoying, me;
if though i, mid my self-loathing thought-routines, then
happen wilily to set my mind on you – at once my mental health
sings (like the aérospatiale alouette at daybreak lifting
off the tarmac) phone-phreak hymns à la bill gates;
remembering your future love, i rake the chips in that’ll let me own
a self i’d gladly swap with you, king-ego mine, my glass-rod-clone.
When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
wie wellen sich vorkämpfen an ölpockigen strand,
so rasen unsre minuten ihrem ende zu;
mit der vorgängerin tauscht jede den platz, robben,
gengestört, stürzen sie sich die klippen hinab.
daß wir natefakte sind rückt erst jetzt ins rampenlicht,
die halbe glückshaube der geburt, die krumme chromosomen
verdeckt – wenig glorios, unser zeugungsroulette.
den jugendjubelrausch als helixtausch fixiert
die zeit uns ins gesicht und konsumiert frisch von der leber
weg das wahrheitsspiel natur, “frei” traben wir
im anthropark dahin; selbst heu weiß dort, was züchtung heißt.
drum, du natefakt, ab in meinen letterntrakt,
grauer samen? quatsch, ich nehme dich im achteltakt.

like waves fighting up a crude-moiled beach

our minutes race toward their end;
each places with its predecessor swaps, seal-pups,
gene-messed, they lemm themselves from off the cliffs.
that we are natefactual is only now spot-lit,
birth’s half auspicious caul that shrouds
crooked chromosomes – rather base, our beget-roulette.
youth’s zesty glee’s a trade of helices time fixes
on our cheeks and makes no bones about consuming
truth and dare game nature, “free”ly we trot about our
anthropark; even oats here know what breeding means.
so, you natefact, drop down into my compositor’s tray,
dismal jism? drop your iambic pants, mater, come let’s play.
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned,
Crooked eclipses ‘gainst his glory fight,
And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature’s truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
And yet to times in hope, my verse shall stand
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.
der liebesfilm, in dem ich schwimme, ist ein fieber,
das begehrt, was den verfall fiebrig fördert,
und sich von dem nährt, was das ungesunde füttert,
um der flimmernden androiden lust zu gefallen.
mein verstand, ehemals der regisseur dieser takes,
hat, ärgerlich, daß das schneiden nicht schneller ging,
mich verlassen, und ich, verzweifelt, weiß nun,
begehren bedeutet tod, auch wenn die regie den körper davon ausnimmt.
bin, als machbares, jenseits der möglichkeit, einen schritt zurückzumachen,
und frenetisch, verrückt, unruhig, endlos
meine gedanken und mein diskurs wie-der-der-verrückt-
en zufällig hie, da, im film der zerschnittenen wahrheit gedacht:
denn ich habe geschworen, du seist hell, und glaubte, du leuchtest,
du, ein schwarzes loch, unbeherrschbar, endlos, die spirale der macht.

the love film i’m at sea in is a fever

desiring what is feverish for decay
and feeding on what nourishes ill-health
to tickle ciné-androids’ xeno-fancy.
my mind, the ex-director of these clips,
annoyed because the editing dragged on,
has left me, and now i despairing know
desire means death, albeit the auteur may keep the body out of frame.
i’m, as a doable, past stopping to double back,
and frenetically, madly, restlessly relentless
my thoughts and my discourse as of the re-mad-(e)-
dened, chancing here, there, in the film of cut-and-pasted truth to go;
for i swore by your brightness, and thought you were aglow,
you, a black hole, illimitable, the coil of power’s laminar flow.
My love is as a fever longing still,
For that which longer nurseth the disease;
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
The uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now Reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,
At random from the truth vainly expressed;
For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.
Originals © Ulrike Draesner
Translations © Tom Cheesman