Posts Tagged ‘Edward Snow’

from The Ninth Elegy

The pain, then. Above all, the hard labor of living,
the long experience of love, — all the purely
unsayable things. But later on,
among the stars, what then:  there the unsayable reigns.

… Between the hammers our heart
lives on, as the tongue,
even between the teeth, remains
unceasing in its praise.

… Earth, isn’t that what you want: to arise
in us invisibly? Isn’t it your dream
to be invisible someday? Earth! Invisible!
What, if not transformation, is your urgent charge?
Earth, my darling, I will! Believe me, you need
no more of your springtimes to win me — , one,
just a single one, is already too much for my blood.
Nameless now, I am betrothed to you forever.
You’ve always been right, and your most sacred tenet
is Death the intimate Friend.

Look, I am living. On what? Neither childhood nor future
lessens … Superabundant existence
wells within my heart.

from The Tenth Elegy

May the tears that stream down my face
make me more radiant:  may my hidden weeping

Rainer Maria Rilke
Duino Elegies

trans. Edward Snow

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from The Fifth Elegy

sometimes, during a brief pause, a tender look
edges forward to bridge the chasm
… but it gets lost on your body …

Angel! O take it, pluck it, that small-petaled herb of healing!
Create a vase, preserve it! Place it among those joys
not yet open to us; in a delicate urn
let an ornate inscription praise it: Subrisio saltat!

… Angel! Suppose there’s a place we don’t know of, and there,
on an indescribable carpet, lovers announced
those feats that they never mastered here — the bold, high
figures of their heartleaps through space,
their towers of pure pleasure, their two ladders
that stand, leaning only against each other,
with no ground underneath, trembling — and then performed them,
before the circle of onlookers, the innumerable silent dead:

would not those dead throw their last coins
of happiness — hoarded through a lifetime,
kept hidden through a lifetime, unknown to us, eternally
valid — onto the blissful carpet before a pair
now truly smiling at last?

from The Sixth Elegy

O fig tree, how long I’ve pondered you —
the way you almost skip flowering completely
and release, unheralded, your pure secret
into the sprigs of fruit already poised to ripen.
Like a fountain’s pipe, your bent boughs drive the sap
downward and up:  and it leaps from sleep, almost
without waking, into the joy of its sweetest achievement.
Look: like the god into the swan.

… But we, for our part, linger …

But suddenly I’m pierced
by his darkened music, borne swiftly by the rush of air.
Then how gladly I would hide from that longing! If only,
oh if only …

from The Seventh Elegy

… as she listened, a reply would slowly wake and grow warm —
the kindled complement of your own ardent feeling.

O, and Spring would understand — , annunciation
would echo everywhere …

it’s already reaching, secretly, into the invisible world.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Duino Elegies

trans. Edward Snow

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O trees of life, how far off is winter?
We’re in disarray. Our minds don’t commune
like those of migratory birds. Left behind and late,
we force ourselves suddenly on winds
and fall, exhausted, on indifferent waters.
Blooming makes us think of fading.
And somewhere out there lions still roam, oblivious,
in all their splendor, to any weakness.

We, though, even when intent on one thing wholly,
already feel the cost exacted by some other. Conflict
is our next of kin. Aren’t lovers always
reaching borders, each in the other,
despite the promise of vastness, royal hunting, home?
Then for an instant’s virtuoso sketch
a ground of contrast is prepared, laboriously,
so we can see it; for they’re very clear
with us. We don’t know our feelings’ contour,
only what shapes it from outside.

Who hasn’t sat anxiously before his heart’s curtain? …

… the dying — surely they
must guess how full of pretext
is all that we achieve here. Nothing
is what it is. O childhood hours,
when behind each shape there was more
than mere past …

Who shows a child just as he is? Who places him
in a constellation and hands him the measure
of distance and interval? Who makes a child’s death
out of gray bread that hardens — or leaves
it in his round mouth like the core
of a beautiful apple? … Murderers are
easily understood. But this: one’s death,
the whole reach of death, even before one’s life is under way —
to hold it gently and not feel anger:
is indescribable.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Duino Elegies

trans. Edward Snow

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