from The Ninth Elegy, by Rainer Maria Rilke
Praise this world to the angel, not the unsayable one,
you won’t impress him with your glorious emotions; out there,
where he feels with more feeling, you’re but a novice. Rather show him
some common thing, shaped through the generations,
that lives as ours, near to our hand and in our sight.
Tell him of things. He’ll stand more awed; as you did
beside the ropemaker in Rome or the potter by the Nile.
Show him how joyful, how pure, how much ours, a thing can be,
how even the lamenting of sorrow resolves into pure form,
serves as a thing, or dies into a thing –, and, in going across,
blissfully flows from the violin. –And these things,
that live by going away, know that you praise them; fleeting,
they look to us for rescue, us, the most fleeting of all.
They want us to transform them completely in our invisible heart
into – oh infinitely – into ourselves. Whoever finally we will be.
(Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Galway Kinnell and Hannah Lieberman)
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