Lost: the Original, its Reason and its Rhyme,
Words whose meanings do not change through time,
"The soul in paraphrase," the heart in prose,
Strictures or structures, meter, les mots justes;
"The owlet umlaut" when the text was German,
Two hours of sleep each night, hapax legomenon,
A sense of self, fidelity, one's honor,
Authorized versions from a living donor.
Found in translation: someone else's voice:
Ringing and lucid, whispered, distant, true,
That in its rising accents falls to you,
Wahlverwandtschaft, a fortunate choice,
A call to answer, momentary grace,
Unbidden, yours; a way to offer praise.
Rika Lesser is a U.S. poet, and is a translator of Swedish and German literary works.