Wednesday, March 18, 2009

poem for the day

Recently I've been reading some of Rainer Maria Rilke's poems from his Book of Hours. I first read Rilke in a German class in college, but hadn't revisited him until recently, after reading Etty Hillesum's Diaries and Letters from Westerbork (another highly recommended read). Here is one I like (title is in German, the rest is translated by Barrows and Macy):

Du bist die Zukunft, grosses Morgenrot

You are the future,
the red sky before sunrise
over the fields of time.

You are the cock's crow when night is done,
you are the dew and the bells of matins,
maiden, stranger, mother, death.

You create yourself in ever-changing shapes
that rise from the stuff of our days--
unsung, unmourned, undescribed,
like a forest we never knew.

You are the deep innerness of all things,
the last word that can never be spoken.
To each of us you reveal yourself differently:
to the ship as coastline, to the shore as a ship.


If anyone knows of a really good English-German edition of the Book of Hours, with both languages present, by a really good translator, I would love to own one. I've read some reviews on Amazon of this translation and they're mixed. I'd like to see what else is out there.

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