Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You Who Never Arrived by Rainer Maria Rilke

You Who Never Arrived

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...


--Translated by Stephen Mitchell


Rainer Maria Rilke was born in Prague in 1875. He resided throughout Europe during his lifetime, including a 12-year residency is Paris, where he befriending the famed sculptor Auguste Rodin. His best known work includes his Duino Elegies and his Sonnets to Orpheus.

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Blogger Black Moses said...

that was fantastic! thank you much. Rilke is a poet I like but I'm very selective about which of his works I like. Some of it I love, some of it bores me. This was of the first type. Thanks again.

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Blogger ginger said...

wow...utterly alone. he's made this woman up and placed so much pressure on her non-existence that i fear he'll never find anyone to measure up to the idea of her.

does that make sense or am i way off?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first read this poem 15 years ago. It spoke to me. The first half spoke to the loneliness I felt at having no real love in my life for so many years. It can be heartbreaking to feel like your true love has not/will not arrive.

But the second half spoke to the hope that I felt that my love WAS out there, we just hadn't found each other, yet. "Perhaps".

The love of my life did arrive some years later. We were both shocked to know that we had lived and worked in the same buildings 5 years before I found Rilke's poem. We must have walked the same halls every day but we never met. I love thinking that startled mirrors were still dizzy with his presence when I looked into them.

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