Rilke's last poem

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Jean Fournell
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Rilke's last poem

Postby Jean Fournell » Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:06 am

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926) died of leukaemia, in the sanatorium Valmont sur Territet in Switzerland.
He had asked his doctor not to be informed of the diagnosis.
This last poem (untitled) was written an estimated ten days before his death.

Komm du, du letzter, den ich anerkenne,
heilloser Schmerz im leiblichen Geweb:
wie ich im Geiste brannte, sieh, ich brenne
in dir; das Holz hat lange widerstrebt,
der Flamme, die du loderst, zuzustimmen,
nun aber nähr’ ich dich und brenn in dir.
Mein hiesig Mildsein wird in deinem Grimmen
ein Grimm der Hölle nicht von hier.
Ganz rein, ganz planlos frei von Zukunft stieg
ich auf des Leidens wirren Scheiterhaufen,
so sicher nirgend Künftiges zu kaufen
um dieses Herz, darin der Vorrat schwieg.
Bin ich es noch, der da unkenntlich brennt?
Erinnerungen reiß ich nicht herein.
O Leben, Leben: Draußensein.
Und ich in Lohe. Niemand der mich kennt.

Come, you, the last one that I will acknowledge,
ungodly pain within the weave of flesh:
just as I burned in spirit, see, I'm burning
in you; the wood has striven long against
assenting to the flame that you are flaring,
now, though, I nourish you and burn in you.
My earthly mildness changes in your raging
to rage of hell that's not from here.
All pure, all without plan from future free
I climbed onto the jumbled pyre of suffering,
so sure I'd not for anything to come yet
trade in this heart wherein the store kept mute.
Is it still I, unrecognisably
on fire there? I draw no memories in.
O life, life is: to be outside.
And I in flames here. No one knowing me.
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)

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