"Heinrich von Oftendingen" by Novalis: Translated from the German by Mara Abolins
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In translating Heinrich von Ofterdingen, I have felt that my primary obligation was to Novalis' meaning and that the preservation of his style must be secondary. I have tried first to render that meaning with precision and clarity, and then to maintain the power and grace and beauty of the original. Regrettably, this was not always possible, particularly in those long, intricate, descriptive passages, so characteristic of Novalis, which could not be translated into grammatical, coherent English without considerable rearrangement. Here, and in a number of other cases where I found it impossible to faithfully translate the German, I have fal1en back on the concept of "Englishing", retaining Novalis' ideas, but using a free hand in the way I expressed them. Translating the many songs and poems in Heinrich von Ofterdingen into English poetry was a task to which my talents were not equal; instead I have, while keeping the form of line and stanza, made them in effect, into English prose.