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Thursday, February 01, 2007

10 reasons to love rilke... if you needed any more:

1. beauty is nothing/ but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure,/ and we are so awed because it serenely disdains/ to annihilate us. Every angel is terrifying.

2. fling the emptiness out of your arms/ into the spaces we breathe; perhaps the birds/ will feel the expanded air with more passionate flying.

3. O smile where are you going? O upturned glance:/ new warm receding wave on the sea of the heart...

4. Oh the Neptune inside our blood, with his appalling trident./ Oh the dark wind from his breast out of that spiraled conch./ Listen to the night as it makes itself hollow.

5. There wasn't a creak that your smile could not explain,/ as though you had long known just when the floor would do that...

6. how could you know/ what primordial time you stirred in your lover. What passions/ welled up inside him from departed beings. What/ women hated you there. How many dark/ sinister men you aroused in his young veins. Dead/ children reached out to touch you...Oh gently, gently,/ let him see you performing, with love, some confident daily task--/ lead him out close to the garden, give him what outweighs/ the heaviest night...Restrain him...

7. O trees of life, when does your winter come?/ We are not in harmony, our blood does not forewarn us/ like migratory birds'.

8. Who makes his death/ out of gray bread, which hardens--or leaves it there/ inside his round mouth, jagged as the core/ of a sweet apple?.....Murderers are easy/ to understand.

9. Each torpid turn of the world has such disinherited ones,/ to whom neither the past belongs, nor yet what has nearly arrived.

10. O Earth: invisible!/ what, if not transformation, is your urgent command?

(all excerpts from Stephen Mitchell's translations of the Duino Elegies)