Blesok no. 88, January-February, 2013
Translated by Cliff Crego
Rainer Maria Rilke
In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris
His gaze is from the passing of bars
so exhausted, that it doesn't hold a thing anymore.
For him, it's as if there were thousands of bars
and behind the thousands of bars no world.
The sure stride of lithe, powerful steps,
that around the smallest of circles turns,
is like a dance of pure energy about a center,
in which a great will stands numbed.
Only occasionally, without a sound, do the covers
of the eyes slide open —. An image rushes in,
goes through the tensed silence of the frame—
only to vanish, forever, in the heart.
You, beloved, who were lost
You, beloved, who were lost
before the beginning, who never came,
I do not know which sounds might be precious to you.
No longer do I try to recognize you, when, as a surging wave,
something is about to manifest. All the huge
images in me, the deeply-sensed far-away landscapes,
cities and towers and bridges and un-
suspected turns of the path,
the powerful life of lands
once filled with the presence of gods:
all rise with you to find clear meaning in me,
your, forever, elusive one.
You, who are all
the gardens I've ever looked upon,
full of promise. An open window
in a country house—, and you almost stepped
towards me, thoughtfully. Sidestreets I happened upon,—
you had just passed through them,
and sometimes, in the small shops of sellers, the mirrors
were still dizzy with you and gave back, frightened,
my too sudden form.—Who is to say if the same
bird did not resound through us both
yesterday, separate, in the evening?
(Paris, winter 1913 - 14)
How I've come to sense this thing called departure.
How I still know: a dark unscathed
cruel something, holding up a delicate braid,
showing it to us again, only to tear it apart.
How defenseless I was, looking upon
that which, calling to me as it left me,
remained behind, as if it were all women
and yet small and white and not quite that:
A waving, already no longer meant for me,
followed by lightly echoing waves --, all
but inexplicable: a plum tree perhaps
out of which a cuckoo, hastily, flew away.
Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Let thine shadows upon the sundials fall,
and unleash the winds upon the open fields.
Command the last fruits into fullness;
give them just two more ripe, southern days,
urge them into completion and press
the last bit of sweetness into the heavy wine.
He who has no house now, will no longer build.
He who is alone now, will remain alone,
will awake in the night, read, write long letters,
and will wander restlessly along the avenues,
back and forth, as the leaves begin to blow.
I am like a flag surrounded by vast, open space.
I sense the coming winds and must live through them,
while all other things among themselves do not yet move:
The doors close quietly, and in the chimneys is silence;
The windows do not yet tremble, and the dust is still heavy and dark.
I already know the storms, and I'm as restless as the sea.
I roll out in waves and fall back upon myself,
and throw myself off into the air and am completely alone
in the immense storm.
Music. The breathing of statues. Perhaps:
The silence of pictures.You, language where all
languages end. You, time
standing straight up out of the direction
of hearts passing on.
Feeling, for whom? O the transformation
of feeling into what?— into audible landscape.
Music: you stranger. Passion which
has outgrown us. Our inner most being,
transcending, driven out of us,—
holiest of departures:
inner worlds now
the most practiced of distances, as
the other side of thin air:
no longer habitable.
(Munich, January 11-12, 1918)
I am too alone in the world
I am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough
to make every hour holy.
I am too small in the world, and yet not tiny enough
just to stand before you like a thing,
dark and shrewd.
I want my will, and I want to be with my will
as it moves towards deed;
and in those quiet, somehow hesitating times,
when something is approaching,
I want to be with those who are wise
or else alone.
I want always to be a mirror that reflects your whole being,
and never to be too blind or too old
to hold your heavy, swaying image.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere do I want to remain folded,
because where I am bent and folded, there I am lie.
And I want my meaning
true for you. I want to describe myself
like a painting that I studied
closely for a long, long time,
like a word I finally understood,
like the pitcher of water I use every day ,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that carried me
through the deadliest storm of all.