History of Literature

Rainer Maria Rilke

"Duino Elegies"


Rainer Maria Rilke


Rainer Maria Rilke

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rainer Maria Rilke (also Rainer Maria von Rilke) (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926) is considered one of the German language's greatest 20th century poets. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety — themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets. He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. His two most famous verse sequences are the Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies; his two most famous prose works are the Letters to a Young Poet and the semi-autobiographical The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. He also wrote more than 400 poems in French, dedicated to his homeland of choice, the canton of Valais in Switzerland.


He was born René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke in Prague, Bohemia (then within Austria-Hungary, now the Czech Republic). His childhood and youth in Prague were sorrowful. His father, Josef Rilke (1838-1906), became a railway official after an unsuccessful military career. His mother, Sophie ("Phia") Entz (1851-1931), came from a well-to-do Prague family, the Entz-Kinzelbergers, who lived in a palace on the Herrengasse (Panská) 8, where René also spent much of his early years. Despite his mother's Jewish background, Rilke was raised Roman Catholic[citation needed]. The relationship between Phia and her only son was encumbered by her prolonged mourning for her elder daughter who was lost after only a week of life. In fact, during Rilke's early years Phia acted as if she sought to recover the lost girl through the boy by dressing him in girl's clothing when he was young, and making him act like a girl, etc.. The parents' marriage fell apart in 1884. His parents pressured the poetically and artistically gifted youth into entering a military academy, which he attended from 1886 until 1891, when he left due to illness. From 1892 to 1895 he was tutored for the university entrance exam, which he passed in 1895. In 1895 and 1896, he studied literature, art history, and philosophy in Prague and Munich.

In 1897 in Munich, Rainer Maria Rilke met and fell in love with the widely traveled intellectual and lady of letters Lou Andreas-Salome (1861-1937). (Rilke changed his first name from "René" to the more masculine Rainer at Lou's urging.) His intense relationship with this married woman, with whom he undertook two extensive trips to Russia, lasted until 1900. But even after their separation, Lou continued to be Rilke's most important confidante until the end of his life. Having trained from 1912 to 1913 as a psychoanalyst with Sigmund Freud, she shared her knowledge of psychoanalysis with Rilke. In 1898, Rilke undertook a journey lasting several weeks to Italy. In 1899, he traveled with Lou and her husband, Friedrich Andreas, to Moscow where he met the novelist Leo Tolstoy. Between May and August 1900, a second journey to Russia, accompanied only by Lou, again took him to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, where he met the family of Boris Pasternak and Spiridon Drozhzhin, a peasant poet. Later, "Rilke called two places his home: Bohemia and Russia".In autumn 1900, Rilke stayed at the artists' colony at Worpswede, where his portrait was painted by the proto-expressionist Paula Modersohn-Becker (illus. above). It was here that he got to know the sculptress Clara Westhoff (1878-1954), whom he married the following spring. Their daughter Ruth (1901-1972) was born in December 1901. However, Rilke was not one for a middle-class family life; in the summer of 1902, Rilke left home and traveled to Paris to write a monograph on the sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). Still, the relationship between Rilke and Clara Westhoff continued for the rest of his life.

At first, Rilke had a difficult time in Paris, an experience that he called on in the first part of his only novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. At the same time, his encounter with modernism was very stimulating: Rilke became deeply involved in the sculpture of Rodin, and then with the work of Paul Cézanne. For a time he acted as Rodin's amanuensis, eventually writing a long essay on Rodin and his work. Rodin taught him the value of objective observation, which led to Rilke's Dinggedichten ("thing-poems"), a famous example of which is "Der Panther" ("The Panther"). During these years, Paris increasingly became the writer's main residence. The most important works of the Paris period were Neue Gedichte (New Poems) (1907), Der Neuen Gedichte Anderer Teil (Another Part of the New Poems) (1908), the two "Requiem" poems (1909), and the novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, started in 1904 and completed in January 1910.

Between October 1911 and May 1912, Rilke stayed at the Castle Duino, near Trieste, home of Countess Marie of Thurn and Taxis. There, in 1912, he began the poem cycle called the Duino Elegies, which would remain unfinished for a decade due to a long-lasting creativity crisis. The outbreak of World War I surprised Rilke during a stay in Germany. He was unable to return to Paris, where his property was confiscated and auctioned. He spent the greater part of the war in Munich. From 1914 to 1916 he had a turbulent affair with the painter Lou Albert-Lasard. Rilke was called up at the beginning of 1916, and he had to undertake basic training in Vienna. Influential friends interceded on his behalf, and he was transferred to the War Records Office and discharged from the military on 9 June 1916. He spent the subsequent time once again in Munich, interrupted by a stay on Hertha Koenig's Gut Bockel in Westphalia. The traumatic experience of military service, a reminder of the horrors of the military academy, almost completely silenced him as a poet.

On 11 June 1919, Rilke traveled from Munich to Switzerland. The outward motive was an invitation to lecture in Zürich, but the real reason was the wish to escape the post-war chaos and take up once again his work on the Duino Elegies. The search for a suitable and affordable place to live proved to be very difficult. Among other places, Rilke lived in Soglio, Locarno, and Berg am Irchel. Only in the summer of 1921 was he able to find a permanent residence in the Chateau de Muzot in the commune of Veyras, close to Sierre in Valais. In May 1922, Rilke's patron Werner Reinhart purchased the building so that Rilke could live there rent-free. In an intense creative period, Rilke completed the Duino Elegies within several weeks in February 1922. Before and after, he wrote both parts of the poem cycle Sonnets to Orpheus containing 55 entire sonnets. Rilke afterwards called it "the great giving."[citation needed] Both works together constitute the high points of Rilke's work. From 1923 on, Rilke increasingly had to struggle with health problems that necessitated many long stays at a sanatorium in Territet, near Montreux, on Lake Geneva. His long stay in Paris between January and August 1925 was an attempt to escape his illness through a change in location and living conditions. Despite this, numerous important individual poems appeared in the years 1923-1926 (including Gong and Mausoleum), as well as a comprehensive lyrical work in French. Only shortly before his death was Rilke's illness diagnosed as leukemia. The poet died on 29 December 1926 in the Valmont Sanatorium in Switzerland, and was laid to rest on 2 January 1927 in the Raron cemetery to the west of Visp. Rilke had believed that his death would be from blood poisoning as the result of having been pricked by a rose thorn. He chose his own epitaph as:

Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust,
Niemandes Schlaf zu sein unter soviel

Rose, oh pure contradiction, joy
of being No-one's sleep, under so
many lids.

Rilke's literary style
Rilke's work was highly influenced by his education and knowledge of classic authors. Ancient gods Apollo, Hermes and hero Orpheus can be found often as motifs in his poems and are depicted in new ways and original interpretations (e. g. story of Eurydice, apathetic and dazed by death, not even recognising her lover Orpheus, who descended to hell for her, in the poem Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes). Other characteristic figures in Rilke's poems are angels, roses and a character of a poet and his creative work. Rilke often worked with metaphors, metonymy and contradictions (e. g. as in his epitaph, rose is represented as a symbol of sleep - rose petals remind of closed eye lids, and of awakened senses - colour, scent and fragility of a rose). Rilke's 1898 poem, "Visions of Christ" depicted Mary Magdalene as the mother to Jesus' child.

Quoting Susan Haskins:

"It was Rilke's explicit belief that Christ was not divine, was entirely human, and deified only on Calvary, expressed in an unpublished poem of 1893, and referred to in other poems of the same period, which allowed him to portray Christ's love for Mary Magdalene, though remarkable, as entirely human."



Fall Day

Lord, it is time. This was a very big summer.

Lay your shadows over the sundial,

and let the winds loose on the fields.

Command the last fruits to be full;

give them two more sunny days,

urge them on to fulfillment and throw

the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Who has no house now, will never build one.

Whoever is alone now, will long remain so,

Will watch, read, write long letters

and will wander in the streets, here and there

restlessly, when the leaves blow.

What fields are fragrant as your hands?

You feel how external fragrance stands

Upon your stronger resistance.

Stars stand in images above.

Give me your mouth to soften, love;

Ah, your hair is all in idleness.

See, I want to surround you with yourself

And the faded expectation lift

From the edges of your eyebrows;

I want, as with inner eyelids sheer,

To close for you all places which appear

By my tender caresses now.


Tanslated J.B. Leishman



Type of work: Poetry
Author: Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)
First published: 1923


For the reader who must rely on a prose translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's culminating work, the story and the man behind its appearance may overshadow the poem itself. Nothing of the elegiac quality of the original German can be translated which is as deeply affecting as the inspiration which produced the work, or the philosophy of the man who wrote it—a craftsman, a visionary, and one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century.
In October, 1911, Rilke visited his friend, Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe, at Schloss Duino, near Trieste. He remained at the castle, alone throughout the winter, until April, and there he composed the first, the second, and parts of several other elegies. The opening stanza, "Who, if I cried, would hear me among the angelic orders?" came to him while walking in a storm along a cliff two hundred feet above the raging sea, a romantic interlude worthy of an atmospheric passage in a Gothic novel. Rilke conceived the plan of all ten elegies as a whole, though ten years elapsed before the poem found its final form.
The First Elegy, like the first movement of a musical work, presents the central theme and suggests the variations that follow. From the opening line to the last, Rilke invokes the Angels, not those of Christianity but of a special order immersed in time and space, a concept of being of perfect consciousness, of transcendent reality. As a symbol appearing earlier in Rilke's poetry, the Angel represents to him the perfection of life in all the forms to which he aspired, as high above man as God is above this transcending one. Nearest to this angelic order are the Heroes—later he praises Samson—and a woman in love, especially one who dies young, as did Gaspara Stampa (1523-1554), whom Rilke celebrates as a near-perfect example. Like the lover, man must realize each moment to the fullest rather than be distracted by things and longings. With this contrast of Man and Angels, of Lovers and Heroes, and with the admission of life's tran-science, the poet suggests the meaning of life and death as well as words can identify such profound things.
If the introduction or invocation is a praise of life, the Second Elegy is a lament for life's limitations. We moderns must, at best, content ourselves with an occasional moment of self-awareness, of a glimpse at eternity. Unlike the Greeks, we have no external symbols for the life within. In love, were we not finally satiated, we might establish communication with the Angels; but finally our intuitions vanish and we have only a fleeting glance at reality.
Rilke began the Third Elegy at Duino and completed it in Paris the following year; during an intervening visit to Spain he composed parts of the Sixth, Ninth, and Tenth Elegies. In the third section he confronts the physical bases of life, especially love. He suggests that woman is always superior in the love act, man a mere beginner led by blind animal passion, the libido a vicious drive. Sublime love is an end in itself, but often human love is a means to escape life. Even children have a sort of terror infused into their blood from this heritage of doubt and fear. From this view of mortality Rilke would lead the child away, as he says in powerful though enigmatic conclusion,

. . . Oh gently, gently
show him daily a loving, confident task done,—
guide him
close to the garden, give him those counter-
balancing nights. . . .
Withhold him. . . .

Perhaps the advent of war made the Fourth Elegy the most bitter of all, written as it was from Rilke's retreat in Munich in 1915. The theme of distraction, our preoccupation with fleeting time and time serving, makes this part a deep lament over the human condition. We are worse than puppets who might be manipulated by unseen forces, Angels. Our attempts to force destiny, to toy with fate, cause us to break from heaven's firm hold. We must be as little children, delighted within ourselves by the world without, and with our attention and energies undivided, alone. Here, we will find our answer to death as the other side of life, a part of life and not the negation or end of it.
The Fifth Elegy, the last to be composed, was written at the Chateau de Muzot in 1922. Rilke was inspired by Picasso's famous picture of the acrobats, Les Saltim ban-ques. Its owner, Frau Hertha Koenig, had allowed Rilke the privilege of living in her home in 1915 in order to be near his favorite painting. Either the poet imperfectly remembered the details of the painting when the poem was finally written or else he included recollections of acrobats who had so delighted him during his Paris years. Regardless of influences, however, this poem is remarkable in its merging of theme and movement with a painting, emphasizing Rilke's conviction that a poem must celebrate all the senses rather than appeal to eye or ear alone.
The acrobats, symbolizing the human condition, travel about, rootless and transitory, giving pleasure neither to themselves nor the spectators. Reality to the acrobat, as to man, is best discovered in the arduousness of the task; but routine often makes the task a mockery, especially if death is the end. If death, however, is the other side of life and makes up the whole, then life forces are real and skillfully performed to the inner delight of performers and spectators, living and dead alike.
The Hero, Rilke asserts in the Sixth Elegy, is that fortunate being whose memory, unlike that of long-forgotten lovers, is firmly established by his deeds. He, being single-minded and single-hearted, has the same destiny as the early departed, those who die young without losing their view of eternity. The great thing, then, is to live in the flower of life, with the calm awareness that the fruit, death, is the unilluminated side of life. For the Hero, life is always beginning.
In the Seventh Elegy, the poet sings the unpremeditated song of existence:

Don't think that I'm wooing!
Angel, even if I were, you'd never come.
For my call
is always full of ' Away!' Against such a powerful
current you cannot advance. Like an outstretched
arm is my call. And its clutching, upwardly
open hand is always before you
as open for warding and warning,
aloft there, Inapprehensible.

From this viewpoint, Rilke attempts in the Eighth Elegy, dedicated to his friend Rudolph Kassner, to support his belief in the "nowhere without no," the "open" world, timeless, limitless, inseparable "whole." "We," conrasted to animals, are always looking away rather than toward this openness.
The theme of creative existence Rilke continues in the Ninth Elegy, possibly begun at Duino but certainly finished at Muzot. Here he suggests that the life of the tree is superior in felicity to the destiny of man. We should, perhaps, rejoice in spite of the limiting conditions of man by overcoming this negation of the flesh with a reaffir-mation of the spirit. Then death holds no fears since it is not opposite to life, not an enemy but a friend. This work may represent the author's own transformation from the negating, inhibiting conditions of the Great War to a renewed faith in life.
The Tenth Elegy, the first ten lines of which came to Rilke in that burst of creativity at Duino, contains a satiric portrait of the City of Pain where man simply excludes suffering, pain, death, from his thoughts; where distractions, especially the pursuit of money, are the principal activities. This semi-existence the poet contrasts with that in the Land of Pain, Life-Death, where there is continuous progress through glimpses of a deeper reality to the primal source of joy.

And we, who have always thought
of happiness climbing, would feel
the emotion that almost startles
when happiness falls.

Perhaps Rilke means that by complete submission or attunement to universal forces one is suspended or even falls into the "open." This deeply realized philosophy he developed in the Sonnets to Orpheus (1923), a work which complements the Duino Elegies, though it does not surpass them in deep emotional undertones and sheer power of expression.




"Duino Elegies"

Translated by Robert Hunter







Who, though I cry aloud,
would hear me in the angel orders?
And should my plea ascend,
were I gathered to the glory
of some incandescent heart,
my own faint flame of being
would fail for the glare.
Beauty is as close to terror
as we can well endure.
Angels would not condescend
to damn our meagre souls.
That is why they awe
and why they terrify us so.
Every angel is terrible!
And so I constrain myself and
swallow the deep, dark music
of my own impassioned plea.
Oh, to whom can we turn
in the hour of need?
Neither angel nor man.
Even animals know that we
are not at home here.
We see so little of what
is clearly visible to them.
For us there is only
a tree on a hillside,
which we can memorize, or
yesterday's sidewalks, or
a habit which discovered us,
found us comfortable and moved in.
O and night...the night!
Wind of the infinite
blowing away all faces.
Within our solitude appears
a nearly lovely god
or goddess, all the
heart is ever apt to meet.
Lovers fare no better,
concealing, by their love,
each other's destiny.
Do you still not understand?
Pour your emptiness
into the breeze-
the birds may soar
more swiftly for it.

Yes, springtime needed you!
The very stars, row on row,
sparkled for your attention.
From bygone days a wave rolled
or a violin yielded itself as you
wandered by some open window.
These were your instructions.
But what could you do-
distracted, as you were,
by all of that significance?-
as though each signpost
pointed on beyond itself
towards something higher yet:
a mere prelude to The Beloved!
(Where would you find room to
keep such a one, in amongst
those vast, weird thoughts,
always coming and going,
often spending the night?)
Sing, in your lovelorn
longing, of the losers.
Make their dark fame glisten.
Sing of those whom you are
nearly moved to envy in the
purity of their despair:
hearts more loving in their pain
than many never broken.
Sing again-and yet again-
your altogether insufficient
praise of them.
The hero lives!
His ruin is but a pretext
to be born again.
Depleted Nature calls her lovers
back into her bosom, as though
she had not strength to fashion them anew.
Have you yet sung the bold grief
of Gaspara Stampa so poignently
that another girl, likewise spurned in love,
might be moved to similar transcending passion?
Is it not time these ancient seeds of pain
put forth a flower?...time that, lovingly,
we free ourselves from lovers?...
time we fit ourselves, quivering
like an arrow to its bowstring,
enduring tension with the prospect
of flight exceeding the limits of
the feathered shaft, the string,
the very bow which looses it?
Nowhere may we remain.

Voices, Voices!
Hear, my heart,
as only the holy hear,
lifted from Earth by
celestial command but
taking no notice, so
perfect is their listening.
You could not bear to hear
the voice of God.
Not that, no...
but perhaps attend
the ceaseless murmer of
silence: the vespers
of the untimely dead,
borne upon the wind...
the whispers of the
children who haunted
that cathedral in Naples-
the church in Rome...
the injunction discovered
on a tombstone last year at
Santa Maria Formosa.
All they ask:
"Weep no more for us!
Your tears muddy the
path of our ascent."

Strange to be no more of Earth.
To quit half learned habits.
To view roses and their kind
no more in human terms.
To be no more a babe in arms
that ever fear to drop you.
To leave the name you are
known by like a child leaves
a broken toy.
Strange to desire nothing.
Strange to watch the
known world dissolve.
Death is very difficult.
Lost time is painfully
reconstructed until the
struggle yields some
slight glimmer of eternity.
The living are mistaken
in their distinctions-
angels often do not know
whether they walk among
the quick or the dead.
So 'tis said.
The storm of eternity roars;
all voices drown in its thunder.

Children who have gone do not require us.
Weaned, they need no mother's breast.
Our joys and sorrows don't concern them.
But we, for whom the mysteries are golden,
still unsolved, our very sustenance-
can we exist without them?
Grief is our spirit's fodder.
Remember the Lament for Linos: how
the first shaft of song shot through
barren air carving a sudden vacuum
in the astonished space where
godlike youth forever vanished,
leaving only a melody, which is
our sole comfort and enchantment.







Every angel is terrible.
Knowing this, I invoke thee,
O Deadly Birds of the Soul.
Gone are the days of Tobias,
when shining Raphael,
awful majesty disguised,
stood at a door, twin
to the youth who gazed
out, curious, upon him.
Should such an archangel
now descend a single step
from behind the stars,
our hearts would rise and
rage until they burst!
Who art thou?

Primordial Perfection!
First darlings of Creation:
mountain summits crimson
in the dawn of genesis-
pollen of Godhead in
resplendent blossom,
essence of light...
halls, stairs, thrones,
places of pure being,
shields shaped of ecstasy,
swirling storms of rapture-
all suddenly ceasing...
mirrors!...commanding all
the scattered sweetness
into themselves again.

When we feel, we do not recoup but
blow until we empty, fading like embers
or trace of perfume, bit by bit.
Should someone say:
"You are the sweet
spring air I breathe,
my heart's own blood!"...
what can it mean?
Contain us? They? No!
We slip in, out and
round them like wind.
And the beautiful...
Who can hold them?
Fairness pours from their faces
dew in rising sun...
our essence dissipates
like steam from a kettle.
O smile, where do you run,
eyes turned to the sky...
new, warm, receding wave
of the heart's own sea?
O sorrow:
all these things are what we are.
Is there any taste of us in that
eternity into which we merge?
Do angels reclaim only perfect light,
or does some hint of what we were remain?
Do our faces linger, if only in that
slight way a mother's face reflects
her unborn child?
They cannot see it in their swirling
return to self! (How could they see it?)

Lovers, had they the time, could
recite words of wonder to the night.
But most things end by concealing us.
Look: trees are!
Our shelters endure.
But we, like mingled winds,
claim no single habitat.
All things conspire to
keep us secret-half,
it seems, from shame
and half in token of
some unspoken hope.

O Lovers, completed in
one another, I turn
to you to ask of us.
Is there certainty in your embraces?
Look at it this way...
my hands sometimes recognize each other
and offer sanctuary to my weary face.
This yields some slight sensation.
But what proof of existence is that?
You who fan the fires of one another's
passion till, overcome, you cry
"No more!"-who, beneath lover's hands,
swell like purple grapes at harvest;
who subside, that the other may
more completely come to be:
I ask you about us.
I know the blessed touch
abides with you-that what
love cherishes does not decay;
immortality oozes from those caresses-
a promise, almost, of eternity.
And yet, when you've weathered
the shy fear of first glances,
the sighs of longing at the window,
the first-never again that first-
garden promenade together:
O lovers, are you then as you were?
When you raise the glasses
of each other's lips to drink,
thirst to thirst,
where does the drinker vanish?

Were you not awed by
the easy attitudes of
Grecian graveyard statuary?
Did not love and farewell
sit lightly on their shoulders,
as though compounded of an
essence unknown to us?
Remember how the hands
rested without pressure
despite apparent strength?
Their very poses seem to say:
"It is given us to touch this way.
If the gods press us harder...
that is for the gods to say."
If only we could discover
such a singular human place-
pure, determined, self-contained,
our own fruitful soil between
the river and the stone!
But our hearts outrun us.
We cannot capture their essence by
lingering before consoling statuary,
nor by contemplation of those godlike forms
containing all for which we yearn
in monumental measure.









To rhapsodize the beloved is one thing.
It is another, alas, to call forth
the shameless River God of the blood
from his hidden places.
What does her young lover,
face dissolving in the distance,
know of the Lord of Lust
who erects himself, despite
her attempted soothing,
from the depths of solitude,
godhead adrip with unknown essences,
blind at times to her very existence,
rousing night to a continuous riot?
O, blood's Neptune, O terrible trident,
O, dark wind of his breast
sounding the spiral conch!
Listen to the night's hollow ring.
Is it not, O stars, from you
that the lover's lust for his
beloved's face comes streaming?
Is not the substance of his
secret vision of her purest
inner being drawn from your
virgin constellations?

You are not the one, alas, nor
was it his mother, who lent that
arch of expectation to his brow.
Not from you, attentive girl,
nor from your kiss, did his lips
achieve a more fruitful curve.
Do you expect your gentle step
to shake the ground he stands upon,
you who waft like morning breezes?
It is true you startled his heart
but terrors more ancient rocked him,
awakened by your touch.
Call as you will, you cannot free him
from those dark companions,
though he himself desires escape.
Succeeding, he throws off their weight
and settles in the bower of your heart.
Discovering the seed of himself within you,
he begins to manifest his individual being.
But does he ever actually begin?
Mother, you made him small.
In you was his beginning.
To you was he new
and above the new eyes
you spread the friendly world,
barring disturbing strangeness.
Ah! Where are the years fled
when your slender silhouette
was all he needed to obliterate
the impending waves of chaos?
You made it all all-right,
hid true darknesses and lighted,
with the sweetness of your heart,
the suspicious corners of his room;
rendered them harmless,
mixing human breath into
their chill, alien wind.
His nightlamp was your presence,
not the candle in the darkness,
but the glow of friendly love.
You explained each creak with a smile
which implicitly stated foreknowledge
that the alloted time for the
floorboard to assert itself had come.
He believed you and was soothed.
All this your presence,
at his bidding, settled.
His tall, cloaked shadow of a fate
slipped back into the closet,
for the moment foiled-
or mingled with the
ripples of his curtains.

Lying there rescued-as your
sweet defending presence
drowsily dissolved
into gentle sleep-
he seemed so secure, yet
who could truly contain
the internal floods of
his fearsome origin?
There were no doubts
in this sweet dreamer...
but in nightmare or in fever:
another matter!
How this new sprout grew,
entangled with the roots
of olden things;
with strangling vines among
prowling ancient predators!
He was the born lover of this
internal primeval wilderness.
Among the rotting trunks of
deposed giants, his heart sprouted
green as the spring and loving.
Loving, he left, descending through
the shoots of his own roots, on out...
out where the grand source of his
little birth already lay outmoded.
Loving, still, he waded into the
depths of vast arroyos flowing
with the blood of his fathers;
where every cohort terror
lay winking in complicity. Yes,
the face of horror smiled upon him.
Seldom, O Mother, have you,
yourself, so sweetly smiled.
What smiled at him, he loved-
how could he help it?
He loved it before he ever knew you-
it was part and portion of your
embryonic waters, upon which he floated.

Observe: a season does not contain
our whole lifetime, as with a lilac.
When we love, a slower sap,
thicker than centuries,
courses through our embrace.
O my love, consider: the child
we would fain conceive was never
an individual but a multitude,
the personification of the fathers
lying in our depths like mountains
leveled to the lowest summits; like
the barren riverbeds of mothers past-
the entire soundless panorama,
whether cloudy or clear,
of mutual destiny.
Before you,
sweet lover,
this was...

And you, yourself, are you
able to know anything of
the eternal darkness which
you stirred in your lover?
How much of his forefathers'
being claimed him?
What women, coveting him,
despised you?
What dark jealousy of
unknown lovers have you
awakened in his veins?
Dead children reach out to you...
Ever so gently, perform with love
some ordinary task before him.
Lead him to the margin of the garden.
Show him the counterweight of darkness.....
Stop him.....









O Trees of Life,
when does your winter fall?
Strangers to instinct,
we lack the focus and
the harmony which guide
the southbound birds.
Overtaken and tardy, we
thrust ourselves upon the wind;
fall out of the sky
into icily indifferent ponds.
We wither as we blossom,
knowing both states at once.
Somewhere lions roam,
knowing nothing of weakness
in the hour of their majesty.

But we cannot focus on
a single object without
worrying about another.
Conflict is our essence.
Aren't lovers always
crowding one another,
despite mutual longing
for wide open spaces,
homestead and plentiful hunting?
As when a canvas is carefully
stretched and primed to receive
a spontaneous sketch,
the better to offset it,
we do not observe the
background of emotion,
only what is splashed upon it.
Who has not sat frightened
before the heart's curtain,
watching it rise upon
a scene of farewell?
So well understood:
the familiar garden,
lightly swaying.
Then came the dancer.
No! Not that one!
No matter how lightly he flies,
he is only a costumed actor,
an ordinary man who takes his bow
then hurries homeward, entering
through the kitchen door.
I will no longer endure
these half filled masks!
Better the completeness
of an honest puppet.
No matter the stuffing and
the wire frame; the painted
face of pure appearance.
Here I stay!
Though they cut the lights and
declare there is no more...
though a grey mist of emptiness
curls from the stage...
though my silent ancestors
no longer sit beside me
-neither that woman nor the
boy with the squint brown eye-
here I stay!
I still may watch.

Am I not right to do so, Father?
You I ask, whose cup of life
seemed bitter after tasting mine, so
vital with the bouquet of youthful promise
but bearing a troubling aftertaste.
You often searched the depths
of my unfocused eyes for
signs of my uncanny future.
Am I not right, O Father,
who, so oft since dying,
hath roused thyself from
vast eternal peace to shudder
at my crumb of fate?
I pray it may be so.
Am I not right?
And you, dear ones, who
loved the first stirrings
of my love inside yourselves:
am I not correct?
You, beloved ones, whose faces
faded in my very gaze
to distances in which
I never existed,
am I not right to sit here,
staring at the puppet stage,
if only to gaze so steadily
that an angel must arise,
obedient to balance,
to startle the stuffed skins
into living action.
Angel with marionettes!
Actual theatre at last!
What our presence has divided
now is in our presence joined.
Only now do the interstellar seasons
correspond to the seasons of the soul.
Above and beyond an angel frolics.
Do only the dying notice how vapid
and pretentious are all of our
accomplishments here, where
nothing is allowed to be
as it is meant to be?
O childhood hours, the shadows of
whose shapes were not yet mere
repetitions of shades past-
when that which gleamed ahead
was not yet the future.
Growing, we often wished we were
already grown, half to please those
for whom nothing but their own
maturity remained.
Yet, when alone, we played
with eternal toys and stood
enchanted in the breach between
our playthings and the world:
a place primordially prepared
for an immaculate advent.

Who can show a child as he really is;
set him starlike in his proper firmament
and place the rod of distant measure
in his hand?
Who bakes the gray bread of his death
and leaves it hardening, sharp as a
sweet apple's inedible core,
in his rounded mouth?.....Murderers
are easy enough to understand.
But to hold death,
the whole of death,
even before life is fairly begun-
to contain it gently
and without complaint-
that defies understanding.








for Frau Hertha Koenig

Who are these rambling acrobats,
less secure than even we;
twisted since childhood
(for benefit of whom?)
by an unappeasable will?
A will which wrings, bends,
swings, twists and catapults,
catching them when they fall
through slick and polished air
to a threadbare carpet worn
ever thinner by their leaping:
lost carpet of the great beyond,
stuck like a bandage to an earth
bruised by suburban skies.
their bodies trace a vague
capital "C" for Creation...
captured by an inevitable grip
which bends even the mightiest,
as King Augustus the Strong
folded a pewter plate for laughs.

Around this center
the Rose of Looking
blossoms and sheds.
Around this pounding pestle,
this self pollinating pistle
producing petals of ennui,
blooms of customary apathy
speciously shine with
superfluous smiles.
There: the wrinkled, dried up Samson,
becomes, in old age, a drummer-
too small for the skin which looks
as though it once held two of him.
The other must be dead and buried
while this half fares alone,
deaf and somewhat addled
within the widowed skin.

There: the young man who seems
the very offspring of a union
between a stiff neck and a nun,
braced and buckled,
full of strength and
innocent simplicity.

O, you, children,
delivered to the infant Pain
as a toy to amuse it,
during some extended
illness of its childhood.

You, boy, discover
a hundred times a day
what green apples know,
dropping off a tree created
through mutual interactions
(coursing through spring,
summer and, swift as water,
fall, all in a flash)
to bounce, thud, upon the grave.
Sometimes, in fleeting glances
toward your seldom tender mother,
affection almost surfaces,
only to submerge as suddenly
beneath your face...a shy,
half-tried expression...
and then the man claps,
commanding you to leap again
and before any pain can
straddle your galloping heart,
your stinging soles outrace it,
chasing a brief pair of
actual tears to your eyes,
still blindly smiling.

O angel, pluck that
small flower of healing!
Craft a vessel to contain it!
Set it amongst joys not
yet vouchsafed us.
Upon that fair herbal jar,
in flowing, fancy letters,
inscribe: "Subrisio Saltat."
...Smile of Acrobat...

And you, little sweetheart,
silently overlept by
the most exciting joys-
perhaps your skirthems
are happy in your stead,
or maybe the green metallic silk,
stretched tight by budding breasts,
feels itself sufficiently indulged.

displaying, for all to see,
the fruit which tips the
swaying scales of balance,
suspended from the shoulders.
Where...O where is that place,
held in my heart, before they'd
all achieved such expertise,
were apt still to tumble asunder
like poorly fitted animals mating...
where the barbell still seems heavy,
where the discus wobbles and topples
from a badly twirled baton?

Then: Presto! in this
exasperating nowhere:
the unspeakable space appears where
purity of insufficiency transforms
into overly efficient emptiness.
Where the monumental bill of charges,
in final arbitration, totals zero.

Plazas, O plazas of Paris,
endless showcase, where
Madame Death the Milliner
twists and twines the
ribbons of restlessness,
designing ever new frills,
bows, rustles and brocades,
dyed in truthless colors,
to deck the trashy
winter hats of fate.

Angel! Were there an unknown place
where, upon an uncanny carpet, lovers
could disport themselves in ways
here inconceivable-daring ariel maneuvers
of the heart, scaling high plateaus of passion,
ladders leaning one against the other,
planted trembling upon the void...
Were there such a place, would their
performance prove convincing to an audience
of the innumerable and silent dead?
Would not these dead toss down their
final, hoarded, secret coins of joy,
legal tender of eternity, before the
couple smiling on that detumescent carpet,
fully satisfied?








Fig tree, I've long found it significant
that you omit, almost entirely, to flower
but, early in the season press, untrumpeted,
your purest secret into resolute fruition.
Through your arched boughs the sap is driven
downward, then forced up, fountainlike,
where, hardly waking, it bursts from sleep
into the bliss of sweetest achievement.
Look-how Jupiter becomes the swan.

.....But, sadly, we hang on.
Our glory is all in the flowering.
We press into our final tardy fruit
already swindled.
Few are moved so boldly by the
impetus to action that they stand
already glowing in fulness of heart
when, like a soft night breeze,
the temptation to flower brushes their
youthful lips and strokes their eyes.
That is the attitude of heroes-
and of those elected for an early grave,
veins trained differently by Death the Gardener.
They dash ahead of their own smiles like
the galloping team of conquering Pharoah
in the gently sculpted friezes at Karnak.

Wondrously akin are the
young dead and the hero.
Survival is the mission of neither.
His is the ascent unending
through amorphous constellations
of everlasting personal peril.
Few could overtake him there.
But Fate, to us so mute,
toward him bends inspired,
singing the hero on to meet
her roaring storm in
his cataclysmic world.
I hear none like him.
Suddenly the river of wind
rushes through me, bearing
his voice of muted thunder.

Then do I despair of my longing for
lost youth with future hope intact,
leaning on arms unmolded yet
to read of Samson: how his mother
gave birth at first to nothing,
then-to everything.

O Mother, was he not, unborn, a hero?
Did his peremptory decisions
not begin while still within you?
Thousands broiled in your womb,
wishing to become him.
But observe: he chose one thing,
disdained another and by the
power of choice prevailed.
If ever he broke mighty columns,
it was in quitting the world of your body
to confront the more constricted world
where he continued to act and choose.
O mothers of heroes-
O fonts of storm whipped rivers!
Gorges where tearful virgins have
plunged from the heart's sheer cliff,
as sacrifice to the son!
Whenever the hero stormed
through the way stations of love,
each heart that beat for him
pushed him on beyond that heart,
where, turning away, he stood,
at smile's end-transfigured.








Wooing no more, no more shall wooing,
voice grown beyond it, be the nature
of your cry-though the cry be pure,
as of a bird when lifted by the
spiraling season-nearly forgetting
that it is a simple fretful creature,
not a solitary heart tossed into
the brightness of intimate skies.
Like him would you woo, so purely
that, all unseen, you might awaken
a silent lover, arousing in her,
ever so slowly, an answering call,
kindled by your own bright passion
into a complementary flame.

O and springtime would take hold
and carry it everywhere until no
cavern nor crannie could fail to
echo your annunciation: the soft
first question of the frail flute
magnified in the limpid stillness
of a daytime of entire agreement.
Then up the ladder of your song,
rise to the temple of the future
discovered, on a time, in dream.
Then the trill-a geyser gathering
its spent streams back into itself,
in recirculation of playful promise
and still, ahead of you, the summer.
Not only each and every sun
of summer at a single rising;
not only the way they steal
dawn's gold into high noon...
Not only the days themselves
which roll so grandly
over constellated trees
be they never so gentle
in amongst the blossoms;
not only the ardent zeal of
each of these unfolded forces,
nor only the footpaths
through twilight meadows,
not these alone, nor the
clarity of breath in the wake
of an afternoon thunderstorm;
not only the approach of sleep
with its omens in tow...
but these NIGHTS!
Heights of the summer's nights,
stars above and stars
of Earth besides:
O to be dead at last and
at long last eternally to
know the stars...
the stars! How, how, how
can they ever be forgotten?

I called my love.
She came, but not alone.
From out of unsecured graves
other girls arose and gathered round.
How could my call, once sounded,
be limited to one?
These unfinished ones
seek again the Earth.
O children, one thing
fully learned here is
fit harvest for a lifetime.
Destiny is only the
dense residue of childhood.
Often, if truth be known,
you caught up with the beloved,
short of breath from joy of the race,
panting for further chase
into entire freedom.

To be here at all is a glory.
You knew it, maidens,
even those of you seemingly
passed over, sinking into
the city's meanest streets,
festering alleys choked with
trash and stinking of excretions.
Each of you had her hour,
or if not an hour,
an instant, at least,
between two moments when
life burst into flower.
Every blessed petal.
Your veins throbbed with it.
But we so soon forget what
our laughing neighbor neither
applauds nor envies.
We desire that they be admired,
but even the most visible
of joys cannot be seen
until transformed-within.
Nowhere, beloved, does any
world exist save that within.
Life spends itself in
the act of transformation,
dissolving, bit by bit,
the world as it appeared.
Where stood a solid house
now stands a mental construct,
entirely conceptual, as though
its rafters supported a
rooftop in the very brain.
The spirit of our time has raised
storehouses of infernal powers,
edifices shapeless as the primal force
he wrenches from creation.
Temples are unknown to him.
It is we who try in secret
to perpetuate such wasteful
luxuriance of the heart.
Yes, if one thing survives
before which we genuflected,
which we served or worshiped,
it passes intact into the invisible.
Many, perceiving it no more,
fail to seize the chance to
build it up anew, with greater
pillars and more commanding statues
than in days of yore-within!

Each sluggish revolution of the world
leaves its dispossessed-heirs neither
of things past nor of those impending.
The immediate future is distant for man.
This should not confuse but confirm
the needfulness of preserving those forms
we still can recognize.
This once stood amongst us,
here in the province of
Fate the Great Annihilator,
in the very midst,
knowing not whither nor whence,
firm in its existence,
calling down stars from
their secure heavens
to stand in witness.
Angel, behold the vision.
I will show it to you-Voila!
Gather it into your eternal sight
where it may at last endure,
upright and redeemed:
pillars, monoliths, the Sphinx,
the gray cathedral's striving thrust
o'er some strange and fading city.

Is it not miraculous?
Attend well, O angel;
This is what we are,
O Great One.
Be thou herald of these wonders!
My own scant breath will not
suffice to celebrate it fully.
We have not, after all, failed
to employ our assigned spaces,
these generous spaces of our own.
(How fearfully vast they must be-
aeons of our feelings
have not overfilled them.)
Was not a single tower great?
O angel, indeed it was,
even by your measure.
The cathedral at Chartres was great-
music rose higher still,
quite surpassing us.
Even a girl in love, at night,
alone by her window...
didn't she reach to your knee?
Do not think I woo thee, angel!
Should I do so, you would not be moved,
so full of conflict is my cry.
Against such utter counter force
you cannot prevail. My call is like
an open hand thrust out to seize,
to defend, to warn off-while you,
unattainable, receed far beyond its grasp.








Animals see the unobstructed
world with their whole eyes.
But our eyes, turned back upon
themselves, encircle and
seek to snare the world,
setting traps for freedom.
The faces of the beasts
show what truly IS to us:
we who up-end the infant and
force its sight to fix upon
things and shapes, not the
freedom that they occupy,
that openess which lies so deep
within the faces of the animals,
free from death!
We alone face death.
The beast, death behind and
God before, moves free through
eternity like a river running.
Never for one day do we
turn from forms to face
that place of endless purity
blooming flowers forever know.
Always a world for us, never
the nowhere minus the no:
that innocent, unguarded
space which we could breathe,
know endlessly, and never require.
A child, at times, may lose
himself within the stillness
of it, until rudely ripped away.
Or one dies and IS the place.
As death draws near,
one sees death no more, rather
looks beyond it with, perhaps,
the broader vision of the beasts.
Lovers, serving only to obstruct
one another's view of it,
approach the place with awe...
as if by accident, it appears
to each behind that precise spot
before which the other stands...
neither can slip behind the other
and so, again, the world returns.
We behold creation's face as though
reflected in a mirror
misted with our breath.
Sometimes a speechless beast
lifts its docile head
and looks right through us.
This is destiny: to be opposites,
always and only to face
one another and nothing else.

Could that surefooted beast,
approaching from a direction
different than our own, aquire
the mental knack to think as do we,
he would spin us round
and drag us with him.
But he is without end unto himself:
devoid of comprehension,
unselfscrutinized, pure
as his outgoing glance.
We see future; he sees
eternal completion.
Himself in all.

Even so, within the alert warmth
of that animal, the weight and care
of one great sadness dwells.
He is not exempt from an unclear
memory-which subdues us as well:
the notion that what we seek was once
closer and truer by far than now...
and infinitely tender.
Here... distances unending.
There... a gentle breathing.
After that first home, this one
seems windstruck and degenerate.
O bliss of the diminutive:
creature born from a particular womb
into womb perpetual.
O delight of the mite who
leaps on, embryonic, though
his wedding day impends!
All is womb to him.
But observe the lesser
certainty of the birds
who seem to know both
circumstances, by
very birthright, like
some Etruscan soul rising from
the cadaver of a sarcophagus
sculpted with its tenant's face.
Imagine the general bafflement
of anything born of the womb
and required to take flight!
Frightened by its very self, it
cuts the air with fractured arcs,
jagged as bat tracks, cracking
the porcelain sky of evening.

We are, above all, eternal spectators
looking upon, never from,
the place itself. We are the
essence of it. We construct it.
It falls apart. We reconstruct it
and fall apart ourselves.

Who formed us thus:
that always, despite
our aspirations, we wave
as though departing?
Like one lingering to look,
from a high final hill,
out over the valley he
intends to leave forever,
we spend our lives saying








Since this short span might
well be lived as lives the laurel,
deeper in its green than
all other green surrounding,
leaves, edged by wavelets,
smiling like the breeze-
then why, destiny overcome,
must we still be human
and long for further fate?

Not because happiness exists,
that apparent advantage
which barely presages loss.
Not out of curiosity,
nor as an exercise of
such a heart as likewise
in the laurel lies...
But because to be here
means so very much.
Because this fleeting sphere
appears to need us-
in some strange way
concerns us: we...
most fleeting of all.
Once and once only for
each thing-then no more.
For us as well. Once.
Then no more... ever.
But to have been as one,
though but the once,
with this world,
never can be undone.

So we persevere,
attempting to resolve it
and contain it in our grasp,
in overfilled eyes and
within our voiceless heart;
attempting to be it,
as a gift-for whom?
For ourselves, forever!
But what can we abscond with?
We cannot take our insight with us
into the other realm, no matter
how painfully gathered.
Nor anything which happened.
Not one thing; neither suffering
nor the heaviness of our lot.
Not the hard earned lore of love,
nor that which is beyond speaking.
What can these things matter,
later, underneath the stars?
Better these things remain unsaid.
When the rambler returns
from the mountain to the vale,
he carries no esoteric clump
of soil, but some hard won word,
pure and simple: a blossom of
gentian, yellow and blue.
Could it not be that we
are here to say: house,
bridge, cistern, gate,
pitcher, flowering tree,
window-or at most:
monolith... skyscraper?
But to say them in a way
they, themselves, never
knew themselves to be?
Is not the undeclared intent
of Earth, in urging lovers on,
to make creation thrill to
the rhythms of their rapture?
What do lovers care if,
splinter by ancient splinter,
they shred the lintels
of their own front doors?
As well they as the many before
and the multitude to come...
it was ever so.

Here is the home and
the time of the tellable!
Speak out and testify.
This time is the time when
the things we love are dying
and the things we do not love
are rushing to replace them,
shadows cast by shadows:
things willingly restrained
by temporary confines
but ready to spew forth as
outer change of form decrees.
Between its hammer blows
the heart survives-as does,
between the teeth, the tongue:
in spite of all,
the fount of praise.

Exalt no ineffable,
rather a known world
unto the angel.
What do your splendors
signify to him?
You are an ingénue
in the sphere of
feeling he inhabits.
So show him a common thing,
the crafting of which has been
passed down from age to age
until our hands are, themselves,
shaped to the making of it
and our eyes to its beholding.
Speak of objects! His eyes will
grow wide, as did yours at the
twister of the ropes in Rome
or the pot-spinner by the Nile.
Show him creature joy,
without blame, entirely our own;
how grief's bitter wail
can live as song or
transcend the utmost
eloquence of violin
in service of sorrow.
These things that live upon
the gesture of farewell know
full well when they are praised:
dwindling away, they demand rescue!
And, that, through us-
the most dwindling of all!
They desire that we change them,
whole, within our invisible hearts;
transform them endlessly, Ah!...
into ourselves.
Whomever we are to be.

Earth, is this your will?
An invisible resurrection
within ourselves?
Is it your desire
one day to vanish?
Earth! Invisible!
What do you demand
but transformation?
Beloved Earth, I will!
Further springtimes are
not required to win me-
On my word, a single May
is too heady for my blood.
I have been your
tongue-tied subject
lo, these many years.
Ever you spoke true
and your holiest idea is
Death, our constant friend.

Look, I live! On what?
Neither childhood nor future
grows less... prodigious springs
of being swell within my heart.








That someday, delivered at last
from this terrifying vision,
I might sing out in praise and
jubilation unto approving angels;
that no single tone shall fail
to sound due to a slack,
a doubtful or a broken string
when clearly struck by
the hammer of my heart;
that my joyful face
might stream with radiance
and these hidden tears at last
erupt in blossoms fully blown,
I must learn to hold these
nights of anguish dear!
O Sisters Of Lament,
why did I not kneel
more lowly to receive you-
surrender myself more fully
to your loose and flowing hair?
We are wastrels of our sorrows,
gazing beyond them into the
desolate reaches of endurance
where we seek to know their ends.
They are but our winter foliage,
our somber evergreen,
a single season of our inner year;
nor season only, but land,
colony, storehouse,
floor and residence.

It is certain, alas,
that we are strangers
to the alleys of the
City of Sorrow, where
in the falsified silence
born of continual clatter,
the mold of emptiness ejects
a strutting figure: the gilded din,
the exploding memorial.
O, with what finality
would an angel trample to dust
their marketplace of consolation,
bounded by the church with its
off-the-rack indulgences: as
tidy, dull and shut tight
as a post office on Sunday.
Outside, always, curls
the edge of the carnival.
Swings of freedom!
High divers and
dedicated jugglers!
And cosmeticized fortune's
metaphoric shooting gallery
whose tin targets clang and
spin when struck by some
marksman's chance shot-
who, dizzy with applause,
seeking further luck,
stumbles down the midway
where diverse attractions
seduce, drum and hawk their wares.
For adults only-a special attraction:
graphic reproduction of currency!
Titillating! The sex life of money,
in the nude, gonads and all,
before your very eyes-
educational and guaranteed
to enhance your virility....
Beyond the last billboard-
plastered with ads for "Deathless,"
the bitter beer, sweet
to those who drink it
(so long as they nibble fresh
distractions between sips)-
behind the billboard,
just to the rear: the real world.
Children play and lovers touch,
off to the side,
intent in the thin grass,
while dogs do as nature bids.
A youth is drawn further on,
enamoured of a young Lament.
Into the fields he follows-
"Beyond," says she,
"far distant do we dwell!"
"Where?" he inquires,
by her bearing swayed.
Her shoulder, her neck,
bespeak a noble origin.
Anon he leaves her;
What's the use?
She is a lament.

Only those who died young,
in the primordial equanimity
of their weaning,
follow her lovingly.
She waits for maidens
and befriends them,
gently shows them
her attire: pearls
of sorrow and veils
fine-spun of patience.
Alongside young men
she walks in silence.

Beyond, in the valley
where they dwell, an
elderly Lament fondly indulges
a youth who questions her.
"Once," she tells him, "we were
a great family, we Laments.
Our fathers worked the mines
of yon mountain range.
Among men you still might find,
at times, a polished lump
of original sorrow-or a nugget
of petrified rage from the slag
of some ancient volcano.
Aye, from yonder range it came.
We once were wealthy."

And lightly she leads him through
the spacious landscape of Lament,
shows him the pillars of the temples
and the crumbled towers from which,
in olden days, the Lords of Lament
so wisely ruled... shows him the
tall trees of tears and the fields
of woe full flowered
(such woe as the living know
only as a shrub unbudded);
shows him the herds of grief
where they stand grazing.
Once in awhile a startled bird,
darting through their skyward gaze,
inscribes its lonely cry upon the clouds.
At dusk she leads him to the graves
of the sibyls and dire prophets-
of all the Lords of Lament
the longest lived.
As night lowers, their steps slacken
and soon, rising like the moon,
the Guardian Sepulchre is seen,
kin to the Sphinx of Nile fame,
lofty in cavernous countenance.
They marvel at the regal head
which silently presents the human
face to be weighed upon the
scale of the stars, eternally.

His sight cannot grasp it,
giddy still from early death,
but her's startles an owl from
behind the rim of the crown,
who brushes the rounder of
his cheeks, leaving a faint
impression upon the new
hearing born of his death;
an indescribable outline
scrawled as though across
the leaves of an open book.

And higher, the stars. New.
Stars of the Land of Lament.
Slowly the elder names their names:
"Look there: the Rider, the Staff,
and that larger constellation
they call the Fruit Garland.
Higher still, toward the Pole,
the Cradle, the Path, the
Burning Book, the Doll, the Window.
In the southern sky,
clearcut as the lines within
a consecrated hand,
sparkles the luminous M
denoting Mothers."

But the dead must away
and silently the Elder Lament
leads him as far as the Arroyo,
where gleaming in the moonlight
springs the source of joy.
With reverence she names it,
saying: "Endlessly it flows
into the world of men."

They stand at the mountain's foot.
Weeping, she embraces him.

Alone, he starts his climb
up the peak of Primal Pain.
Not once do his footsteps echo
from this soundless path of fate.
Were the endlessly dead
to awaken some symbol,
within us, to indicate
themselves, they might
point to the catkins
dangling from the leafless
branches of the Hazel trees.
Or speak in drops of rain
falling to dark earth
in early spring.

Then we,
who have known joy
only as it escapes us,
rising to the sky,
would receive the
overwhelming benediction
of happiness descending.




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