Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Stephen Mitchell
Whom will you cry to, heart? More and more lonely,
your path struggles on through incomprehensible
mankind. All the more futile perhaps
for keeping to its direction,
keeping on toward the future,
toward what has been lost.
Once. You lamented? What was it? A fallen berry
of jubilation, unripe.
But now the whole tree of my jubilation
is breaking, in the storm it is my breaking, my slow
tree of joy.
Loveliest in my invisible
landscape, you that made me more known
to the invisible angels.
I almost met you
On a Saturday
The wind blew easterly.
There was a jar of mums
On a table near the window.
Their yellows were calling
To each other.
Were put back
In the pencil drawer
Before I noticed your shadow.
Three paces down the shore, low sounds the lute,
The better that my longing you may know;
I’m not asking you to come,
But—can’t you go?
Three words, “I love you,” and the whole is said—
The greatness of it throbs from sun to sun;
I’m not asking you to walk,
But—can’t you run?
Three paces in the moonlight’s glow I stand,
And here within the twilight beats my heart.
I’m not asking you to finish,
Carol Ann Duffy
I watched love leave, turn, wave, want not to go,
late spring, a warm slow blue of air, old-new.
Love was here; not; missing, love was there;
each look, first, last.
Down the quiet road, away, away, towards
the dying tine,
love went, brave soldier, the song dwindling;
walked to the edge of absence; all moments going,
gone; bells through rain
to fall on the carved names of the lost.
I saw love’s child uttered,
unborn, only by rain, then and now, all future
past, an unseen. Has forever been then? Yes,
forever has been.
Oh, how you used
to run with them.
Your voice is like bells over rooftops at dawn
When a bird flies
And the sky changes to a fresher color.
Speak, speak, Beloved.
Say little things
For my ears to catch
And run with them to my heart.
Because you never found that spark in me
(I, my dear, couldn’t breathe from the smoke of your flames).
You hate me and I hate you,
And we are so polite, we too!
But whenever I see you I burst apart
And scatter the sky with my blazing heart.
It spits and sparkles in stars and balls,
Buds into roses, and flares and falls.
Scarlet buttons, and pale green disks,
Silver spirals and asterisks,
Shoot and tremble in a mist
Peppered with mauve and amethyst.
I shine in the window and light up the trees,
And all because I hate you, if you please.
And when you meet me, you rend asunder
And go up in a flaming wonder
Of saffron cubes, and crimson moons,
And wheels all amaranths and maroons.
Golden lozenges and spades,
Arrows of malachites and jades,
Patens of copper, azure sheaves.
As you mount you flash in the glossy leaves.
Such fireworks as we make, we two!
Because you hate me and I hate you.
The Sunset of Romanticism
How beautiful a new sun is when it rises,
flashing out its greeting, like an explosion!
– Happy, whoever hails with sweet emotion
its descent, nobler than a dream, to our eyes!
I remember! I’ve seen all, flower, furrow, fountain,
swoon beneath its look, like a throbbing heart…
– Let’s run quickly, it’s late, towards the horizon,
to catch at least one slanting ray as it departs!
But I pursue the vanishing God in vain:
irresistible Night establishes its sway,
full of shudders, black, dismal, cold:
an odour of the tomb floats in the shadow,
at the swamp’s edge, feet faltering I go,
bruising damp slugs, and unexpected toads.