THE SONNETS TO ORPHEUS by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Temple
[In memory of young Wera Knoop, who died aged 18. She had been a talented dancer but suddenly stopped, took an interest in music, then died of a glandular disease. Rilke saw her only a few times.]

And now I would remember you once more, show you forth,
Oh you whom I knew like a flower
Of which I didnít know the name, oh spirited-away,
Exquisite playmate of an unascendable scream.

A dancer first who suddenly, her body wholly hesitating,
Set. As if one had cast her young being in bronze;
Grieving, alert for sounds. ----- Then, from the high suasion,
Into her altered heart sank the gift of music.

The illness was near. Already imprisoned by the shadows,
Her darkening blood pressed forward nevertheless,
Impelling itself as if suspiciously fugitive into its natural Spring.

Again and again, reprieved from darkness and from ruin,
It glistened, perishable. Until, after a dreadful rapping,
It entered the open, desolate door.

© Robert Temple 2010. Website designed by Jonathan Greet