Last night I was back in The Cave trying to keep
cool. And I got bored. So I went and grabbed a book.
And I actually read some of it. Which is not usual
for me these days — reading from a book.

I know I know, I should do more of it.

Everything in its own time.

Rainer Maria Rilke

from Sonnets to Orpheus


II, 14

Look at the flowers, so faithful to what is earthly,
to whom we lend fate from the very borders of fate.
And if they are sad about how they must wither and die,
perhaps it is our vocation to be their regret.

All things want to fly. Only we are weighted down by desire
caught in ourselves and enthralled with our heaviness.
Oh what consuming, negative teachers we are
for them, while eternal childhood fills them with grace.

If someone were to fall into intimate slumber, and slept
deeply with things –: how easily he would come
to a different day, out of the mutual depth.

Or perhaps he would stay there; and they would blossom and praise
their newest convert, who now is like one of them,
all those silent companions in the wind of the meadows.

II, 13

Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it will your heart survive.

Be forever dead in Eurydice — more gladly arise
into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.

Be — and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

To all that is used up, and to all the muffled and dumb
creatures in the world's full reserve, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself and cancel the count.

— translated by Stephen Mitchell.

(My thanks to Dirk, whose post on Mahler
and Ruckert
led me again to Rilke.)