27 June 2012

Poem: As once the winged energy of delight by Rilke

Was moving some papers this morning and ran across a copy I'd made of this poem by the glorious Rainer Maria Rilke. As happens whenever I encounter Rilke's work, I read this poem over and over again, and it has been haunting me all day.

As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood’s dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.

Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.

To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions… For the god
wants to know himself in you.

from Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell (Modern Library 1995)

1 comment:

John K said...

He has such a way of defamiliarizing even the most commonplace experience to make it feel new, to bring the interior qualities of anything, the metaphysical but also the ineffable, into language, that it is both disorienting and enchanting. He's extraordinary, and Mitchell is one of the best Rilke translators I've ever read.