Tag Archives: Rainer Maria Rilke

A Song

My ears already hear the morning lark.
Listening far beyond my sight I have begun.
So we absorb what we seem to not touch;
it vibrates us, even from a distance –

and fills us, even if we do not know it,
with something live, which, until sensing it,
we never are; the music moves us on
answering our own song…
but what we hear is the breath of the whole world.

After A Walk by Rainer Maria Rilke

8 APR 2014

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Where did you find the most inspiration,
as each line cut like a diamond-edged drill
through layers of effluvia that still
the seeking heart? Was it your frustration

with a cold and unfeeling world, that sought
to silence any expression of joy
in the blossoming soul of a young boy
whose only sinful act was being caught

worshipping beauty in ordinary
things? Was it a way to battle against
each day’s regimen of daily dross,

the hardness that can infect one’s very
core and so cheapen the experience
of living that its end is no great loss?

10 AUG 2003

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Sonnets of Osiris

As winter extends its grip on the land,
clutching with long alabaster fingers
and leaving remnants of a leprous hand
where its frigid probing touch still lingers,

deep in the cold soil, where the dormant root,
its life spark quiet but not void of light,
bides its time, holding back a probing shoot
while the surface world shimmers deathly white,

the soul of Osiris breathes deep and slow,
with soft gentle rhythm – a murmured sigh.
As the ice slowly thickens, and winds bring

sheets of freezing rain and flurries of snow,
it lazily twitches a sleep-closed eye
and dreams of its birth in the coming spring.

The parched land cries against this time of drought
like an old man beset by dusty dreams,
who finds his virile youth faded in doubt
and his best suit frayed at the seams.

In the dark months of weak and distant sun,
an ancient mist lies heavy on the earth –
unloosing thoughts that plague the mind, and shun
the knowledge of the coming spring rebirth.

The voice of Osiris speaks through dreams then,
to reassure the world it will awake,
and whisper secret words of life and power;

Like a sure promise of dawn coming when
the dank tendrils of night loosen and break,
he announces the coming of his hour.

Like a silver bullet against the night,
its potent magic cast in powdered mist
as the autumn warmth slips away in flight
and leaves only the memory of her kiss,

deep in the bowels of the hard frozen earth
where each buried fragment denies the whole
and hides itself from sunlight’s glowing mirth
seeking only the dark shade of the soul

the cold seed of Osiris is brought alive
by the earth mother’s fervent, warm embrace
and grows into new life in her womb’s void.

Now from that union the son will survive,
and in the heart of winter show his face;
the sacrifice shall not be destroyed.

13 DEC 2002

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A Modern Erasmus

When I have a little money, I do not buy food or other such trivialities. I buy books. – Erasmus

Ah, as Lawrence Olivier might say in one of his Nazi- or vampire-hunting roles … “I haf enlarged ze library mit some literature of ze mittle-Europeans.” Today at the bookstore, I picked up a few new volumes in a pre-Yule splurge:

The Sorrows of Young Werther and Selected Writings, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: This is something by Goethe that I have always meant to read. I used to have Kaufmann’s bilingual translation of Faust, but it has been a long time since I read anything else by one of my literary, philosophy and scientific inspirations. About 10 years ago, I was in Switzerland and saw the garrett in Lucerne where Goethe lived for a time.

Mysteries, Knut Hamsun: I was turned onto Hamsun about 15 years ago when I encountered him in the works of Henry Miller. Miller praises him constantly throughout the Tropics books. At that time, I picked up Hunger, which is probably Hamsun’s most known work. I liked it a great deal, but at the time my reading was limited to what I could find at the library, so Hamsun took a back seat to other writers. I’m looking forward to this one.

Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke: Also about 10 years ago, a friend of mine who fancied herself a poet was always toting around a copy of this book. I looked at it briefly, but never owned a copy myself. I really like Rilke’s Poetry, and have seen various quotations from this book floating around recently – so I thought I’d do myself the favor of revisting it.

Beowulf – A New Verse Translation, Seamus Heaney: I’ve plowed through several different versions of Beowulf in the past 25 years. So why would I buy another one? First, I have been reading some things about Heaney as a poet and philosopher that have made me think about writing and what it means to be a poet. Second, I read a few excerpts of the text on-line at Amazon, and I liked the way the verse flowed. Third, this is bilingual edition, in both modern English and Anglo-Saxon. I like bilingual editions as a rule, and really needed no excuse to add this one to the library.

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