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David Young

David Young

David Young has been translating Rilke for many years. His own poems are most recently represented by Field of Light and Shadow: Selected and New Poems(Knopf, 2010). He has also translated Petrarch, Paul Celan, Du Fu, and Basho, as well as the late Czech master, Miroslav Holub.

From Rilke's Notebooks, August, 1914 (English Translation)

All things can seem to summon us, our touch;
they signal Notice! to us from all sides.
A day we passed through, perfect strangers,
transforms itself into a future gift.

Who reckons up our yield? Who separates
us from our years that have gone by?
What have we learned from our beginnings
except that one thing knows itself in others?

Or that we have been warmed indifferently?
Oh house, oh meadow slope, oh evening light,
at once you're with us, almost face to face,
and you stand close, embracing and embraced.

One single space pervades all beings here:
an inner world-space. Silently, the birds
fly through us still. Oh, I who want to grow,
can gaze outside: a tree will rise inside me.

I'm anxious, and a house abides within me.
I'm careful, and my safety has no fears.
My love, who I become: inside me dwells
the image of all beauty, streaming tears.

(Original German)

Es winkt zu Fühlung fast aus allen Dingen,
aus jeder Wendung weht es her: Gedenk!
Ein Tag, an dem wir fremd vorübergingen
entschließt im künftigen sich zum Geschenk.

Wer rechnet unseren Ertrag? Wer trennt
uns von den alten, den vergangnen Jahren?
Was haben wir seit Anbeginn erfahren,
Als daß sich eins im anderen erkennt?

Als daß an uns gleichgültiges erwarmt?
O Haus, o Wiesenhang, o Abendlicht,
auf einmal bringst du's beinah zum Gesicht
und stehst an uns, umarmend und umarmt.

Durch alle Wesen reicht der eine Raum:
Weltinnenraum. Die Vögel fliegen still
durch uns hindurch. O, der ich wachsen will,
ich seh hinaus, und in mir wächst der Baum.

Ich sorge mich, und in mir steht das Haus.
Ich hüte mich, und in mir ist die Hut.
Geliebter, der ich wurde: an mir ruht
der schönen Schöpfung Bild und weint sich aus.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875-1926, brought German poetry from a Symbolist phase to high modernism. His Neue Gedichte, 1907 & 1908, changed poetry forever. His twin masterpieces, Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus, were composed after a period of silence occasioned by World War One. This poem from his notebooks, 1914, anticipates the central insights of his late poems, among the greatest of the twentieh century.

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