Rainer Maria Rilke was one of the most significant poets in the German language. It is quite shameful that I have only recently begun to appreciate his poetry.
One of them struck a chord so deep that it surely has to be included here in my online journal, for myself to be reminded of it always.
“You Who Never Arrived” by Rainer Maria Rilke
You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of the next
moment. All the immense
images in me– the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,
cities, towers, and bridges, and unsuspected
turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods-
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.
You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house–, and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and, startled,
gave back my too-sudden image. Who knows?
perhaps the same bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…
I have written poems, but none of them are as beautiful as this.
Thank you, Rilke.