Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sonnet to Orpheus I, 5

Email Reply to: Dad
CC: my nephew in Chicago, my uncle in Columbus

[Dad wrote: Day in Autumn

After the summer's yield, Lord, it is time
to let your shadow lengthen on the sundials
and in the pastures let the rough winds fly.

As for the final fruits, coax them to roundness,
Direct on them two days of warmer light
to hale them golden toward their term, and harry
the last few drops of sweetness through the wine.

Whoever's homeless now, will build no shelter,
who lives alone will live indefinitely so,
waking up to read a little, draft long letters,
and, along the city's avenues,
fitfully wander, when the wild leaves loosen.

Translated from the German by Mary Kinzie

Source: Poetry magazine, April 2008]

It's not autumn yet! Nevertheless, I see your Rilke and raise you another. Love, your second daughter

Ranier Maria Rilke from The Sonnets to Orpheus I, 5
(trans. Stephen Mitchell)

Erect no gravestone to his memory; just
let the rose blossom each year for his sake.
For it is Orpheus. Wherever he has passed
through this or that. We do not need to look

for other names. When there is poetry,
it is Orpheus singing. He lightly comes and goes.
Isn't it enough if sometimes he can stay
with us a few days longer than a rose?

Though he himself is afraid to disappear,
he has to vanish: don't you understand?
The moment his word steps out beyond our life here,

he moves where you will never find his trace.
The lyre's strings do not constrict his hands.
And it is in overstepping that he obeys.

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