FEIGENBAUM, seit wie lange schon ists mir bedeutend,
Fig tree, for how long has it been of significance to me,
wie du die Blüte beinah ganz überschlägst
how you almost totally skip over blossoming
und hinein in die zeitig entschlossene Frucht,
and into the fruit intent upon timely maturing,
ungerühmt, drängst dein reines Geheimnis.
unheralded, you thrust your purest secret.
Wie der Fontäne Rohr  treibt dein gebognes Gezweig
Like the conduit of a fountain your bent branches drive
abwärts den Saft und hinan: und er springt aus dem Schlaf,
the sap downwards and onwards: and it springs out of its sleep,
fast nicht erwachend, ins Glück seiner süßesten Leistung.
almost not awakening, into the felicity of its sweetest achievement.
Sieh: wie der Gott in den Schwan.
Behold: as the god into the swan.
. . . . . .Wir aber verweilen,
. . . . . .We however linger,
ach, uns rühmt es zu blühn,  und ins verspätete Innre
alas, we celebrate our flowering, and we enter into the belated core
unserer endlichen Frucht gehn wir verraten hinein.
of our finite fruit already betrayed.
Wenigen steigt so stark der Andrang des Handelns,
In few does the impetus toward action ascend so strongly,
daß sie schon anstehn und glühn  in der Fülle des Herzens,
that they already stand waiting and glow in the fullness of their heart,
wenn die Verführung zum Blühn  wie gelinderte Nachtluft
when the seduction to flowering like soothing night air touches
ihnen die Jugend des Munds,  ihnen die Lider berührt:
the youth of their mouths, touches their eyelids:
Helden vielleicht und den frühe Hinüberbestimmten, 
Heroes perhaps and those early forordained to the hereafter,
denen  der gärtnernde Tod anders die Adern verbiegt.
in whom the gardening death has contorted their veins [A] differently.
Diese stürzen dahin: dem eigenen Lächeln
These hurl onward: they are in advance of
sind sie voran, wie das Rossegespann in den milden
their own smile, like the team of horses in the mildly
muldigen Bildern von Karnak dem siegenden König. 
incised pictures of Karnak, the victorious king.
Wunderlich nah ist der Held doch den jugendlich Toten.  Dauern
Wonderously near indeed is the hero to the youthful dead. Duration
ficht ihn nicht an.  Sein Aufgang  ist Dasein; beständig
temps him not. His ascension is his being; constantly
nimmt er sich fort und tritt ins veränderte Sternbild
he takes himself away, and steps into the changed constellation
seiner steten Gefahr. Dort fänden  ihn wenige. Aber,
of his constant danger. There few would find him. But that which
das uns finster verschweigt,  das plötzlich begeisterte Schicksal
is ominously silent to us, that suddenly enthused fate,
singt ihn hinein  in den Sturm seiner aufrauschenden Welt.
sings him into the storm of his up-roaring world.
Hör ich doch keinen wie ihn. Auf einmal durchgeht  mich
None do I hear such as he. Suddenly along with the streaming air
mit der strömenden Luft sein verdunkelter Ton.
his darkened tone goes through me.
Dann, wie verbärg  ich mich gern vor der Sehnsucht: O wär ich,
Then how I would like to conceal myself from the longing.: O were I,
wär ich ein Knabe und dürft es noch werden und säße
were I a youth and might still become it and sat
in die künftigen Arme gestützt und läse von Simson, 
propped upon my future arms and read about Samson,
wie seine Mutter erst nichts und dann alles gebar.
how his mother at first bore nothing and then everything.
War er nicht Held schon in dir, o Mutter, begann nicht
Was he not already a hero in you, o mother, did not already
dort schon, in dir,  seine herrische Auswahl?
his masterful choice begin there, within you?
Tausende brauten im Schooß und wollten e r  sein,
Thousands were incubating in the womb and wanted to be h i m,
aber sieh: er ergriff und ließ aus, wählte und konnte.
but look: he took hold and excluded, chose and could.
Und wenn er Säulen zerstieß, so wars,  da  er ausbrach 
And when he pulverized pillars, it was, because he broke forth
aus der Welt deines Leibs in die engere Welt, wo er weiter
out of the world of your body into the narrower world, where he further
wählte und konnte. O Mütter der Helden,
chose and could succeed. O mothers of heroes,
o Ursprung reißender Ströme! Ihr Schluchten,  in die sich
oh origin of hurtling streams! You ravines, into which,
hoch von dem Herzrand, klagend,
high from the ledges of the heart, lamenting,
schon die Mädchen gestürzt, künftig die Opfer dem Sohn. 
already the maidens plunged, future sacrifice to the son.
Denn hinstürmte  der Held durch Aufenthalte der Liebe,
Then stormed onward the hero through love's sojurns,
jeder hob ihn hinaus,  jeder ihn meinende Herzschlag, 
each lifted him outwards, each heartbeat destined for him,
abgewendet schon, stand er am Ende der Lächeln, anders. 
already turned away, he stood at the end of the smiles, transformed.
 drängst: Hyperbaton. Normal word order would be "und hinein in die zeitig entschlossene Frucht, ungerühmt, dein reines Geheimnis drängst." Hyperbaton: A figure of speech, such as anastrophe or hysteron proteron, using deviation from normal or logical word order to produce an effect.
 Wie der Fontäne Rohr: "das Rohr der Fontäne." Also example of a simile. Simile: A figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared often in a phrase introduced by "like" or "as," in German with "wie."
 abwärts: Hyperbaton. Normal word order would be "Wie der Fontäne Rohr treibt dein gebognes Gezweig den Saft abwärts und hinan . . ." Hyperbaton: A figure of speech, such as anastrophe or hysteron proteron, using deviation from normal or logical word order to produce an effect.
 wie der Gott in den Schwan: A zeugma, since the elliptically understood verb "springen" is used in a different sense than in the previous phrase "und er springt aus dem Schlaf, fast nicht erwachend, ins Glück seiner süßesten Leistung." Springing from sleep, almost awakening, into the felicity of his sweetest achievement is of a different nature than springing as Jupiter did into the swan. The "into" is because of the accusative after "in." Also a simile Zeugma: A construction in which a word is used to modify or govern two or more words, often so that its use is grammatically or logically correct with only one. Ellipsis: The omission of a word or phrase necessary for a complete syntactical construction but not necessary for understanding. Simile: A figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, often in a phrase introduced by "like" or "as."
 blühn: Syncope since the unshortened two-syllable infinitive is "blühen." Syncope: The shortening of a word by omission of a sound, letter, or syllable from the middle of the word.
 glühn: Hyperbaton since the normal word order would be "daß sie schon anstehn und in der Fülle des Herzens glühn." Also note the syncope in the shortening of "glühen" into one syllable. Hyperbaton: A figure of speech, such as anastrophe or hysteron proteron, using deviation from normal or logical word order to produce an effect. Syncope: The shortening of a word by omission of a sound, letter, or syllable from the middle of the word.
 zum Blühn: The verb "Blühen" used as a gerund after a preposition with a Syncope, since the unshortened two-syllable gerund is "Blühen." Syncope: The shortening of a word by omission of a sound, letter, or syllable from the middle of the word.
 ihnen die Jugend des Munds, ihnen die Lider: In correct German you are not to use a possessive adjective with a bodily part; you use instead a dative referring to the possessor(s). The colloquial forms would be "die Jugend ihres Mundes and die Jugend ihrer Lider."
 Helden vielleicht und den frühe Hinüberbestimmten: These two nouns are in Apposition to "Wenigen" which is in the dative, and are thus also in the dative case. The "e" ending on "frühe" may be somewhat puzzling, since as an adjective the ending would be the weak "en." The word "früh" is being used adverbially which in German is uninflected, the ending "e" being an adverbial suffix in a rare usage in order to continue the prevailing dactylic meter. An example of a pleonastic "e." Although we have had numerous examples so far, we have not yet discussed Rilke's almost excessive usage of what the Germans call "Nominalisierung" which is the creation of a noun from just about anything and encompassing just about everything. (In one of his "Geschichten vom lieben Gott" written in 1900 in a rather precious prose Rilke creates the noun "das Fingerhütliche" from the noun "der Fingerhut" which is a thimble. The meaning in comic English would be "thimbleliness" in analogy to "godliness.") "Hinüberbestimmten" is a combination of "hinüber" which in this context can mean "the hereafter," "bestimmten" has the past participle "bestimmt" used as a noun with the weak ending "en" which means "ordained or determined." The whole word means something like "those ordained to the hereafter" and in combination with the modifier "frühe" means "those early foreordained to the hereafter" A similar noun in the first elegy is "die Früheentrückten referring to the same youthful dead, in this case meaning "the ones who have been early forcibly carried away, enraptured" since both the meanings of "carried away forcibly" and "enraptured" are contained in "entrückt." The aptness of this double meaning will become clearer in future Elegien. Apposition is an explanatory noun or phrase normally placed after the noun explicated. In German it must be in the same case and set off with commas. Pleonastic: A superfluous word, phrase or letter. Dactyl: A metrical foot consisting of one long syllable followed by two short ones. Nominalisierung: The creation of a noun from any part of speech. In German, all that is needed is to capitalize the word, be it verb, adverb, pronoun, past or present participle or conjunjction, and add the requisite case endings, if any. All such constructions are in the neuter gender.
 denen: Since possession is being indicated by this relative pronoun, why is not the normal form "deren" used as in "deren Adern der gärternde Tod anders verbiegt?" The previous usage of "ihnen die Jugend des Munds, ihnen die Lider" is another example-- Normally no possessive adjective with bodily parts. The normal declarative sentence meaning that "Gardening Death contorts their veins differently" would be "Der gärternde Tod verbiegt ihnen anders die Adern." The "ihnen" then becomes the demonstative pronoun "denen" and the whole relative clause becomes "denen der gärnernde Tod anders die Adern verbiegt."
 von Karnak dem siegenden König: The phrase "dem siegenden König" is obviously in Apposition to Karnak which is in the dative. One could question why Rilke did not use a comma here. In Duden, Hauptschwierigkeiten der deutschen Sprache," concerning the use of the comma after apposition, it states that the writer has a choice when there is an "Einschub," meaning a short designation such as Der Inspektor Herr Meier or Frau Martha Schneider geb. Kühn. But this is limited to short inserts without any pronouns of numbers" "Merke: Nicht als Einschübe gelten die Attribute, die zwischen dem Artikel (Pronomen, Zahlwort) und seinem Substantiv stehen." One could see "Karnak dem siegenden König" as a designation similar to "Karl der Grosse," but, of course, in the dative. The missing comma could also be caused by the short phrase and that Rilke wanted to keep the momentum up, rather than finishing slowly, to more aptly match the speed of the team of horses.
 jugendlich: Apocope since the inflected form should be "den jugendlichen Toten." Apocope: The loss of one or more sounds from the end of a word.
 ficht ihn nicht an: the verb "anfechten" in this context has the meaning of being tempted by something or someone overwhelming as Abraham was tempted to kill his son Isaak by God. The noun "Anfechtung" means "temptation" in theological German. For this reason a translation such as "Duration tempts him not" with its Biblical overetones seems appropriate.
 Aufgang: This word means "rising", most commonly used in the German word for "sunrise" "Sonnenaufgang." One of the German definitions in the Sprach-Brockhaus is "Weg nach oben." Another is "aufbrechen" which is "to prepare oneself to depart" or "to depart". The sixth and last definition is "to begin" . This last definition takes us back to the statement in Elegie 1: "denk: es erhält sich der Held, selbst der Untergang war ihm nur ein Vorwand, zu sein: seine letzte Geburt." Note that the negative "Untergang" meaning "decline" or "death" has transformed itself into the more optemistic "Aufgang" with the different prefix "auf" meaning "rising" with undertones of "departure", "setting forth", etc. Since the preceeding statement is that "duration does not lead him into temptation." we can interpolate that this "Aufgang" also refers to his death.
 fänden: Konjunktiv II form of "finden" (Imperfekt "fand" with Umlaut and "en" ending). Translate as "There few would find him."
 das uns finster verschweigt: A rather unusal hyperbaton, since Rilke has placed this free-floating relative clause in advance of its antecedent. The normal word order would be "Aber das plötzlich begeisterte Schicksal, das uns finster verschweigt, singt ihn in den Sturm seiner aufrauschenden Welt hinein." Hyperbaton: A figure of speech, such as anastrophe or hysteron proteron, using deviation from normal or logical word order to produce an effect.
 hinein: Hyperbaton Normal would be "singt ihn in den Sturm seiner aufrauschenden Welt hinein." Hyperbaton: A figure of speech, such as anastrophe or hysteron proteron, using deviation from normal or logical word order to produce an effect.
 durchgeht Rilke is using this normally separable-prefixed verb as an inseparable-prefixed one in a transitive manner meaning that it "rushes through me".
 verbärg: The first of a series of Konjunktiv II forms: wär, dürft, säße, läse: Note the apocope on "verbärg," "wär" and "dürft." Apocope: The loss of one or more sounds from the end of a word.
 O wär ich, wär ich ein Knabe und dürft es noch werden und säße in die künftigen Arme gestützt und läse von Simson: The first part of this sentence: " O wär ich, wär ich" is an Epizeuxis with the exact immediate repetition. The word "wär" is also an apocope. The whole sentence is a Polysyndeton. Normal would be "O wär ich, wär ich ein Knabe, dürft es noch werden, säße in die künftigen Arme gestützt und läse von Simson . . ." Epizeuxis: Repetition with no words intervening. Apocope: The loss of one or more sounds from the end of a word. Polysyndeton: The repetition of conjunctions, normally "and."
 schon in dir... schon, in dir: A near epistrophe, since they both come after a verbal rhetorical question phrase "War er nicht Held schon in dir"... "begann nicht dort schon, in dir." Only the comma disturbs the perfection of the three word epistrophe. The "in dir" remains as a two-word one. Epistrophe: The repetition of a word or words at the end of two or more successive verses, clauses, or sentences, as in "I should do Brutus wrong and Cassius wrong..." An anaphora is repetition at the beginning, an epistrophe is at the end.
 e r: Only example of Sperrdruck in this Elegie. After the verb "sein" the nominative must be used in German. In American English the normal translation would be "wanted to be h i m." The grammatically correct "wanted to be h e" sounds singularly unemphatic. Sperrdruck: Spaced type formerly used for Italics and found in the Elegien. In modern editions replaced with italics.
 wars: Synaloepha of "war es." The "es anticipates the following subordinate clause. Synaloepha: Omission of a vowel to contract two words into one such as "don't," "it's."
 da: One would expect "weil" as a subordinating conjunction here, but according to Duden "da" is often used in such instances when the main clause is introduced with "so": "Auch wenn der Hauptsatz mit 'so' eingeleitet wird, steht 'da'. . ."
 ausbrach: Hyperbaton. Normal word order would be "da er aus der Welt deines Leibs in die engere Welt ausbrach." Hyperbaton: A figure of speech, such as anastrophe or hysteron proteron, using deviation from normal or logical word order to produce an effect.
 O Mütter der Helden, o Ursprung reißender Ströme! Ihr Schluchten: A series of apostrophes rererring to the "mothers of heroes," the last two phrases being in Apposition to the first. The whole sequence is an extended scesis onamaton. Apostrophe: The direct address of an absent or imaginary person or of a personified abstraction, especially as a digression in the course of a speech or composition. Apposition is an explanatory noun or phrase normally placed after the noun explicated. In German it must be in the same case and set off with commas. Scesis onamaton: Omission of the only verb of a sentence.
 in die sich hoch von dem Herzrand, klagend, schon die Mädchen gestürzt, künftig die Opfer dem Sohn.: The phrase "in die sich hoch von dem Herzrand, klagend, schon die Mädchen gestürzt" is a relative clause in the form of a past participial phrase. In German the verb "sind" is understood. The next phrase "künftig die Opfer dem Sohn" is an elliptical relative clause referring to "die Mädchen" Reconstructed it would read: "in die sich...schon die Mädchen gestürzt [sind], [die] künftig die Opfer dem Sohn [werden]. Ellipsis,: The omission of a word or phrase necessary for a complete syntactical construction but not necessary for understanding.
 hinstürmte Hyperbaton The normal, less dynamic word order would be "Denn stürmte der Held durch Aufenthalte der Liebe hin." Hyperbaton: A figure of speech, such as anastrophe or hysteron proteron, using deviation from normal or logical word order to produce an effect.
 jeder hob ihn hinaus: The first part of An epanorthosis used in this instance as yet another way for Rilke to dynamically place the verbal action before the subject. Epanorthosis: The rephrasing of an immediately preceding word or statement for the purpose of intensification, emphasis, or justification.
 jeder ihn meinende Herzschlag The second part of the epanorthosis in the form of an extended modifier before the subject. The normal rendering would be "jeder Herzschlag, der ihn meint" and the whole simplified sentence would be "jeder Herzschlag, der ihn meint, hob ihn hinaus..."
 anders: Were this modifier to be placed within the preceeding phrase in its normal position "stand er anders am Ende der Lächeln" it would mean that he was standing differently. The separation through a comma seems to indicate an elliptical meaning of "als jemand anders." The whole statement would be "stand er am Ende der Lächeln, als jemand anderes." I have chosen to use the word "transformed," since the German uses one word. Ellipsis: The omission of a word or phrase necessary for a complete syntactical construction but not necessary for understanding.
[A] veins: German uses "Adern" which means "artery" to indicate a "Wesenszug" or essential characteristic, while English uses "veins" to indicate "a pervading character or quality; streak." Therefore to convey the meaning, one has to literally mistranslate the word.