Sonnet 14 of ‘Sonnets to Orpheus’, Rainer Maria Rilke

Behold the flowers, those true to the earthly,
to whom we lend fate from the edge of fate,–
yet who can say? If they regret their fading,
it is for us to be their regret.

Everything wants to float. And yet we move about like weights,
attaching ourselves to everything, in thrall to gravity;
O what wearisome teachers we are for things,
while in them eternal childhood prospers.

If someone were to take them into his inmost sleep
and sleep deeply with them–: O how light he’d emerge,
changed, to a changed day, from the mutual depth

Or perhaps he’d stay; and they’d bloom and praise him,
the convert, become now like one of their own,
all the quiet brothers and sisters in the meadow’s wind.

Sonnets to Orpheus, Translated by Edward Snow (North Point Press, 2004)


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