THE SONNETS TO ORPHEUS by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Temple
BOOK IINTRODUCTIONTHE SONNETSRAINER MARIA RILKEROBERT TEMPLE'S WEBSITE
The nymph who laments, guardian of our spring of tears,
Dares come only within the compass of praising, of song, -
She who watches over the settling of the precipitate,
That it be clear, on that same rock

That bears the gates and the altars. -
See, about her shoulders so tranquil there rises
The sensation that she must be the youngest
Of those sisters, to be disposed so.

Exultation knows, and fierce Desire acknowledges, -
Only Lamentation must still learn; with a maidenís hand
She counts out the old sorrows through the night.

But suddenly, slantwise and unpractised,
She holds aloft a constellation of our voices
Against the heavens, left unobscured by her breath.


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