–Rainer Maria Rilke
Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you,
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,
leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs –
leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.
If the neverending New Age books brought me nothing else (but in truth, they did bring me more than this), they connected me to the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, whose works I had glimpsed only only through his correspondence with Marina Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak (writers much more in my milieu for so much of my life).
“We are, above all, eternal spectators
looking upon, never from,
the place itself. We are the
essence of it. We construct it.
It falls apart. We reconstruct it
and fall apart ourselves.
Who formed us thus:
that always, despite
our aspirations, we wave
as though departing?
Like one lingering to look,
from a high final hill,
out over the valley he
intends to leave forever,
we spend our lives saying
But it renews my objections to and troubles with translation. I read several translations of the elegies – all are quite different, and create quite different impressions. I could easily immerse myself in these differences for days, for weeks, as I once did with Akhmatova translations.