Monday, December 11, 2006

Poem of the Week 12/11/2006: from Duino Elegies: First Elegy

from Duino Elegies: First Elegy

And if I cried, who'd listen to me in those angelic
orders? Even if one of them suddenly held me
to his heart, I'd vanish in his overwhelming
presence. Because beauty's nothing
but the start of terror we can hardly bear,
and we adore it because of the serene scorn
it could kill us with. Every angel's terrifying.
So I control myself and choke back the lure
of my dark cry. Ah, who can we turn to,
then? Neither angels nor men,
and the animals already know by instinct
we're not comfortably at home
in our translated world. Maybe what's left
for us is some tree on a hillside we can look at
day after day, one of yesterday's streets,
and the perverse affection of a habit
that liked us so much it never let go.
And the night, oh the night when the wind
full of outer space gnaws at our faces; that wished for,
gentle, deceptive one waiting painfully for the lonely
heart--she'd stay on for anyone. Is she easier on lovers?
But they use each other to hide their fate.
You still don't understand? Throw the emptiness in
your arms out into that space we breathe; maybe birds
will feel the air thinning as they fly deeper into themselves.

Ranier Maria Rilke (trans. A. Poulin Jr.) 1922

I will write about this poem later, when my mind can sort a little bit about it. Some poems need to be lived with, digested, absorbed.


Jyotishka said...

I read part of this poem in 'The Hungry Tide' - Amitabha Ghosh .. and they are haunting me ever since - I was sitting at a coffee shop today and suddenly felt like reading the Duino Elegies and landed up here ..

Rito said...

The same effect happened with me. Ever after reading Hungry Tide, all these snippets are playing in my mind continuously.

Young scholarz said...

Yes ... I am here feeling the same as those gone before me .. Eager to know and understand these poems