Utena - Heine poem

This 1844 German poem by Heinrich Heine is thematically related to Utena, so I translated it. It happens sometimes.

Never fear, my love is hidden
From the world forevermore,
Though your beauty bids me gush with
Overflowing metaphor.

Underneath a flower forest,
Guarded in a silent hole,
Lies that quiet blazing secret,
Lies that shrouded glowing coal.

Though at times suspicious sparks may
Fly from the roses—let it be!
The world does not believe in fire.
They assume it’s poetry.
Sorge nie, daß ich verrate
Meine Liebe vor der Welt,
Wenn mein Mund ob deiner Schönheit
Von Metaphern überquellt.

Unter einem Wald von Blumen
Liegt, in still verborgner Hut,
Jenes glühende Geheimnis,
Jene tief geheime Glut.

Sprühn einmal verdächt’ge Funken
Aus den Rosen—sorge nie!
Diese Welt glaubt nicht an Flammen
Und sie nimmt’s für Poesie.

My translation doesn’t have the simplicity and subtlety of the original, but it will have to do. As a rhyming translation, it’s not literal. The German word “Hut” in line 6 has multiple meanings and can’t really be translated. It suggests a forest location and care and protection, and it’s also a term for a guard position in a sword fight. I told you the poem was thematically related.

While in France, Heine fell in love with an illiterate lower-class girl, half his age, who didn’t speak his language. At that place and time, it was scandalous—not because of the age difference, because of the social class difference. By the year this poem about it was published, they were married, and they stayed together the rest of his life.

It makes me think of how the knowledgeable and capable Anthy must feel about Utena, who understands so little and makes so many mistakes. Imagine them together in the outside world: It would be an unequal relationship.

Jay Scott <jay@satirist.org>
first posted 18 December 2021
updated 6 March 2022