Marianne Moore: Poetry

August 24, 2017

Rock Crystal by Adalbert Stifter

Filed under: Poem Sources — by moore123 @ 7:52 pm

Rock Crystal

Adalbert Stifter (1805-1868) was born in Oberplan, Austria, and as a young man began to write stories based on the countryside of his youth. He published Bergkristall in 1845, the story of two children lost in the mountains on Christmas Eve. A century later, at the urging of W. H. Auden, Moore and Elizabeth Mayer translated the work as Rock Crystal for Pantheon Press in 1945. Linda Leavell writes in Hanging On Upside Down that Mayer “wrote a literal first draft, and Marianne gave Mayer’s English the sparkle of poetry” (327).

Moore and Mayer were almost exact contemporaries. Mayer (1884-1970) hailed from Munich which she fled in 1936, following her psychiatrist husband to New York. An accomplished pianist and hostess, she welcomed such artists as W. H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, and Peter Pears to her homes on Gramercy Park and in Amityville, Long Island. Auden’s New Year Letter (1940) was dedicated to her.

In addition to her translation with Moore, Mayer also worked with Louise Bogan on Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. Auden introduced both books.

Moore’s and Mayer’s translation has recently been reissued by the New York Review of Books and is widely available. A brief sample is visible at Google Advanced Book Search. Adam Kircsh has an interesting review of the NYTBR reissue in which he ties the Moore/Meyer translation to Hannah Arendt:


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