March 23, 2006

Selection from Rilke’s “[Straining so hard against the strength of the night]”

Filed under: poetry — ted @ 10:30 am

Perhaps the angels’ power is slightly lessened
when the sky with all its stars bends down to us
and hangs us here, in our cloudy fate.
In vain. For who has noticed it? And even
if someone has: who dares to lean his forehead
against the night as on a bedroom window?
Who has not disavowed it? Who has not
dragged into this pure inborn element
nights shammed and counterfeited, tinsel-nights,
and been content (how easily) with those?
We ignore the gods and fill our minds with trash.
For gods do not entice. They have their being,
and nothing else: an overflow of being.
Not scent or gesture. Nothing is so mute
as a god’s mouth. As lovely as a swan
on its eternity of unfathomed surface,
the god slides by, plunges, and spares his whiteness.


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