O you lovers that are so gentle, step occasionally
into the breath of the sufferers not meant for you,
let it be parted by your cheeks,
it will tremble, joined again, behind you.
You have been choosen, you are sound and whole,
you are like the very first beat of the heart,
you are the bow that shoots the arrows, and also their target
in tears your smile would glow forever.
Do not be afraid to suffer, give
the heaviness back to the weight of the earth;
mountains are heavy, seas are heavy.
Even those trees you planted as children
became too heavy long ago - you couldn't carry them now.
But you can carry the winds...and the open spaces...
translated by Robert Bly
Words like, unhappy, misery, was compelled to, suffered and borne are sprinkled liberally throughout the biography of Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) the Czech-born poet. Given that background it is unsurprising that the turning point of his artistic life came on a trip to Russia, a country with as many synonyms for misery as Eskimos have for snow. He died almost completely unknown, no surprise there. But, also no surprise, his reputation as a great poet has grown steadily since then.
I did deliberately choose this poem and this translation to end the Poem of the Day for another year. It has just the right mix of burden and optimism that seems to release the reader into, well, the open spaces.
Thank you all for your support, your comments and your enthusiasm. I hope you enjoyed reading these as much as I enjoyed sending them.
One sad apple
4 years ago