Poem of the Week, by Rainer Maria Rilke
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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