Monday, December 13, 2010

[you who never arrived]

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 un-
suspected 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...

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from the Uncollected Poems
translated by Stephen Mitchell