Friday, June 17, 2011

Circling -- with Rilke

Ranier Maria Rilke (1875-1926) was born in Prague but emigrated to Germany and is one of the great modern lyric poets.   The following Rilke poems draw on images of circles.

    For Hans Carossa     by Rainer Marie Rilke

   Losing too is still ours; and even forgetting
   still has a shape in the kindgdom of transformation.
   When something's let go of, it circles; and though we are
           rarely the center
   of the circle, it draws around us its unbroken, marvelous

"For Hans Carossa" and the following untitled poem are f rom The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell.  Copyright © 1980, 1981, 1982 by Stephen Mitchell    Used by permission of Random House, Inc.

     I live my life in widening rings
     which spread over earth and sky.
     I may not ever complete the last one,
     but that is what I will try.

     I circle around God, the primordial tower,
     and I circle ten thousand years long;
     and I still don't know if I'm a falcon, a storm,
     or an unfinished song.

Thanks to F J Craveiro de Carvalho, University of Coimbra, Portugal, who brought "For Hans Carosso" to my attention. Here is a link to other Rilke poems.

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