Thursday, January 07, 2010

Sometimes Rilke Says It All

Overflowing heavens of squandered stars
flame brilliantly above your troubles. Instead
of into your pillows, weep up toward them.
There, at the already weeping, at the ending visage,
slowly thinning out, ravishing
worldspace begins. Who will interrupt,
once you force your way there,
the current? No one. You may panic,
and fight that overwhelming course of stars
that streams toward you. Breathe.
Breathe the darkness of the earth and again
look up! Again. Lightly and facelessly
depths lean toward you from above. The serene
countenance dissolved in night makes room for you.

--Rainer Maria Rilke, Paris, April 1913, from _Uncollected poems_ selected and translated by Edward Snow New York : North Point Press, 1996

You the belovedlost in advance,
you the never-arrived,
I don’t know what songs you like most.
No longer, when the future crests toward the present,
do I try to discern you. All the great
images in me – the landscape experienced far off,
cities and towers and bridges and un-
suspected turns in the path
and the forcefulness of those lands
once intertwined with gods:
all mount up in me to signify
you, who forever eludes.

Ah, you are the gardens!
With such hope I
watched them! An open window
in the country house –, and you almost
stepped out pensively to meet me. I found streets,—
you had just walked down them,
and sometimes in the merchants’ shops the mirrors
were still reeling from you and gave back with a start
my too-sudden image.—Who knows if the same
bird did not ring through both of us
yesterday, alone, at evening?

-Paris, winter 1913-14

I'm desperate to find the Ed Snow translation of an uncollected Rilke poem that starts "Again and Again even though we know love's landscape and the reticent gorge in which the others end." There are many imposters on the internet, but only Snow's translation will do. I have it in a book (Uncollected Rilke by Snow) which I love more than any other poetry book (and I have many) but it is trapped in a storage unit in Utah. I pay the $53 a month ransom to keep it alive, but its release is dependent upon acceptance to a certain graduate program. This is a poem that deserves liberty. Once I find it in cyberspace, I will send it out to you to change your lives as it has mine. I guess I have to try the library. Sigh.

(this post is dedicated to KA whom I miss and who sends me poetry and stamps from far off lands reminding me of who I was once upon a time)

1 comment:

Krisanne said...

This poetry moved me deeply at 10:16 am in Seoul Korea.