THE SONNETS TO ORPHEUS by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Temple
BOOK IINTRODUCTIONTHE SONNETSRAINER MARIA RILKEROBERT TEMPLE'S WEBSITE
There were many quiet, rigid rules for death,
from your time as hunter, oh man who conquers afar;
but more than trap and net, I have seen the hanging white strips of sailcloth,
lowered into the limestone caverns to frighten out the birds.

They lower you so gently, as if you were a sign,
a signal of peace. But then a boy twists your rope
- and, from the cave mouths, Night hurls forth a handful of pale,
tumbling cave-doves into the light

Ah, but that is right.

May every breath of pity be far from he who sees this,
for it is not only the hunter who gives timely and watchful effect.
To kill is merely an aspect of our wandering Dream
All that happens to us
Is pure, in the serenity of the spirit.


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