THE SONNETS TO ORPHEUS by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Temple
(Marked ‘To Wera’: this poem is directly addressed to the spirit of young Wera Knoop, a talented dancer who died aged 18; see the earlier poem of Book I, Number 25)

Oh arrive and leave. You were still half a child,
Completing a dancing pose for but a moment,
The pure form of a star constellation, which is
One of the ways in which we overcome the mindless random order

Of Nature, also just for a moment. For it was only when Orpheus sang
That Nature awoke and heard, was quickened in alertness.
Though far away in time, this stirred you. And you were somewhat
Surprised that a tree considered so slowly and hesitated

To join with you in hearing it.
You sensed the very place where the lyre
Raised itself aloft -; the mid-point which has never been heard.

For you ventured your beautiful steps
And you hoped, one day in holy celebration
To alter the course and countenance of your friend.
(Her friend is himself.)

© Robert Temple 2010. Website designed by Jonathan Greet