Friday, February 5, 2010

All other creatures

All other creatures look into the Open
with their whole eyes. But our eyes,
turned inward, are set all around it like snares,
trapping its way out to freedom.
We know what’s out there only from the animal’s
Face; for we take even the youngest child,
Turn him around and force him to look
At the past as formation, not that openness
so deep within an animal’s face.
Free from death,
we only see it; the free animal
always has its destruction behind
and god ahead, and when it moves,
it moves toward eternity like running springs.
Not for a single day, no, never have we had
That pure space ahead of us, in which flowers
endlessly open.
It is always World
and never Nowhere without No:
that pure, unguarded space we breathe,
always know, and never crave.
As a child,
one may lose himself in silence and be
shaken out of it. Or one dies and is it.
Once near death, one can’t see death anymore
And stares out, maybe with the wide eyes of animals.
If the other weren’t there blocking the view,
Lovers come close to it and are amazed…
It opens up behind the other, almost
an oversight…but no one gets past
the other, and the world returns again.
Always facing creation, all we see
is the reflection of the free and open
that we’ve darkened, or some mute animal
raising its calm eyes and seeing through us,
and through us.
This is destiny: to be opposites,
always, and nothing else but opposites.
If this sure animal approaching us
from a different direction had our kind
of consciousness, he’d drag us around
in his wake. But to the animal, his being
is infinite, incomprehensible, and blind
to his condition, pure, like his outward gaze.
And where we see the future, he sees
all, himself in all, and whole forever.
And yet the weight and care of one great sadness
lies on this warm and watching creature.
Because what often overwhelms us
Also clings to him — the memory
that what we so strive for now may have been
nearer, truer, and its attachment to us
infinitely tender, once.
Here all is distance, there it was breath.
After that first home,
the second seems drafty and a hybrid.
Oh, blessed are the tiny creatures
who stay in the womb that bore them forever;
oh the joy of the gnat that can still leap within,
even on its wedding day; for the womb is all!
And look at the half-certainty of the bird
almost aware of both from birth,
like one of the Etruscan souls rising
from the dead man enclosed inside the space
for which his reclining figure forms a lid.
And how confused is anything that comes
from a womb and has to fly. As if afraid
of itself, it darts through the air
like a crack through a cup, the way a wing
of a bat crazes the porcelain of night.
And we: spectators, always, everywhere,
Looking at everything and never from!
It floods us. We arrange it. It decays.
We arrange it again, and we decay.
Who’s turned us around like this,
so that whatever we do, we always have
the look of someone going away? Just as a man
on the last hill showing him his whole valley
one last time, turns, and stops, and lingers –
so we live, and are forever leaving.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke