Rainer Maria Rilke

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Rainer Maria Rilke

Postby Diane » Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:00 pm

This is from a translation of the Ninth Duino Elegy by Rainer Maria Rilke. I can't find the source for it, and the translations online seem wordier and less satisfying, but it would be interesting to hear from a German speaker whether this is true to the original.

Why, if it’s possible
to spend our little
span of existence

as laurel
slightly darker
than all the other greens
with tiny waves
on each leaf’s rim
(like a wind’s smile)

-why then
still insist
on being human
and shrinking from fate
long for it too?...

Oh not because happiness
- that part of approaching ruin
that rushes ahead of it –
isn't real.

Not out of curiosity
not to exercise the heart
that would have been fine

in the laurel…
But just because to be here
means so much

and because
everything here
all this that’s disappearing

seems to need us
to concern us
in some strange way

we, who disappear
even faster!
It’s one time

for each thing
and only once
Once and no more.

And the same for us:
Then never again.

But this once having been
even though only once
having been on earth
seems as though
it can’t be undone

And so we push ourselves
wanting to master it
wanting to hold it all

in our own two hands
in the overloaded gaze
and the dumbstruck heart.
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Re: Rainer Maria Rilke

Postby lonndubh » Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:14 am

Its beautiful Diane
I like this excerpt with music and picture
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Re: Rainer Maria Rilke

Postby beatingthelilies » Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:19 am

wow, synchronicity has just brought me to this thread! After hearing of this collection of poems by Rilke from a book by Jim Carroll, I have actively searched for it at various booksellers and found it only hours ago! Time to rush off and read the Ninth Elegy again!
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Re: Rainer Maria Rilke

Postby Diane » Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:20 pm

Hello Beating the lilies:-) (and L!). I'd like to read the entire Duino Elegies - which book did you get, and was the translation good, in your opinion?

Rilke was, from what I've seen, masterful at evoking expansive, powerful image-impressions. Examples:

Ah, Not to be Cut Off
(translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner -- what is it?
if not the intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.


You Who Never Arrived
(translated by Stephen Mitchell)

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me -- the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,
cities, towers, and bridges, and un-
suspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods--
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house -- and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me. Streets that I chanced
upon --
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and, startled, gave back
my too-sudden image. Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...
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mat james
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Re: Rainer Maria Rilke

Postby mat james » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:55 am

"You who never arrived"
Beautiful poetry even in translation.
It took me immediately to Tagore.

"...and the steps that I heard in my playroom
are the same that are echoing from star to star."

{Rilke was asked at some stage to do a translation of Tagore's work from English into German (http://www.parabaas.com/rabindranath/ar ... rtin1.html)
so I suppose they must have understood each others work.}

What do they say about "great minds think alike"

I love all that stuff !
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: Rainer Maria Rilke

Postby Diane » Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:11 pm

I have read more Tagore than Rilke, Mat, but they sure both were great minds.

Here's another brilliant Rilke I came across (same translator). (It contains the words Stranger: music - any connection I wonder?) This may be one of the best poems I have ever seen.

To Music

Music: breathing of statues. Perhaps:
silence of paintings. You language where all language
ends. You time
standing vertically on the motion of mortal hearts.

Feelings for whom? O you the transformation
of feelings into what?--: into audible landscape.
You stranger: music. You heart-space
grown out of us. The deepest space in us,
which, rising above us, forces its way out,--
holy departure:
when the innermost point in us stands
outside, as the most practiced distance, as the other
side of the air:
no longer habitable.
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Re: Rainer Maria Rilke

Postby Diane » Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:47 pm

I am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough
to make every moment holy.
I am too tiny in this world, and not tiny enough
just to lie before you like a thing,
shrewd and secretive.
I want my own will, and I want simply to be with my will,
as it goes toward action;
and in those quiet, sometimes hardly moving times,
when something is coming near,
I want to be with those who know secret things
or else alone.
I want to be a mirror for your whole body,
and I never want to be blind, or to be too old
to hold up your heavy and swaying picture.
I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere,
because where I am folded, there I am a lie.
and I want my grasp of things to be
true before you. I want to describe myself
like a painting that I looked at
closely for a long time,
like a saying that I finally understood,
like the pitcher I use every day,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that carried me
through the wildest storm of all.

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