Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rainer Maria Rilke Poem

My close friend, Rod McDaniel, who lives in Heidelberg, has for the past 3 years been fastidiously translating Rilke's poems, elegies, and now, the letters—many of which are archived in the Heidelberg University library. He's been feeling into the spirit of the work, and making sure the translation captures Rilke's best mystical intent. The letters, especially, are an amazingly rich source of insight about the colleagues and amazing thinkers who all knew each other and gathered in Europe around the turn of the century.

Here is one of the beautiful poems by Rilke, who never ceases to inspire me:

Look, I know there are those
who never learn to walk the paths
that lead people to each other.
Rather, they experience an opening
into a suddenly breathable Heaven.
A never-ending flight
through love's thousand years night.

Invariably they all smile,
already crying with joy.
Invariably they all cry,
already full of eternal joy.

Don't ask me
how long they continue feeling. How long
can one see those ascending toward Heaven?
Perhaps inexpressable Heaven
is invisible
even to our inner landscape.

Destiny is something else. Destiny makes people
visible. Standing like towers. Falling.

But lovers continue
beyond their own destruction
eternally forth; and there is no exit
out of the infinite. Who retreats from
eternal joy?

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