Sunday, March 01, 2009

Spring Rilke

Poetry came my way rather later in life, middle-age, and it seems like I'll never catch up on my reading. That's not an entirely bad thing. I will not have idle eyes.

I finally bought some Rilke, Duino Elegies. It looks like he probably is all that.

Here are some excerpts from "Fourth Elegy", without the proper formatting. Blogger just isn't helpful in that way at all:


But we
when we're fully intent
on one thing

can already feel
the pull of another.
Hatred is always close by.

Aren't lovers always
coming to sheer drop-offs
inside each other
they who promised themselves
open spaces, good hunting
and a homeland?


you who loved me
for my little beginning
of love for you

I always lost track of
because of the distance
in your face

even as I loved it
turned into outer space
where you no longer existed . . .


Who shows a child
as he really is?

Who sets him among the stars
and puts the measure of distance
in his hand?

Who makes the child's death
out of a gray beard
that gets hard
who leaves it there
in his round mouth
like the core
of a lovely apple?
Murderers aren't hard to comprehend
But this:
to contain death
the whole of death
even before life has begun
to contain it so gently
and not be angry--
this is indescribable.

(Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies, Translated by David Young, W.W. Norton & Company, 1978)

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Amazing...I definitely need to buy some Rilke.