15 February 2009 | Vol. 8, No. 4

You who never arrived

You who never arrived

in my arms, Beloved, who were lost

from the start,

I don't even know what songs

would please you. I have given up trying

to recognize you in the surging wave of the next

moment. All the immense

images in me—the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,

cities, towers, and bridges, and unsuspected

turns in the path,

and those powerful lands that were once

pulsing with the life of the gods—

all rise within me to mean

you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all

the gardens I have ever gazed at,

longing. An open window

in a country house—, and you almost

stepped out, pensive, to meet me.

Streets that I chanced upon,—

you had just walked down them and vanished.

And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors

were still dizzy with your presence and, startled,

gave back my too-sudden image. Who knows?

perhaps the same bird echoed through both of us

yesterday, seperate, in the evening…

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About the author:

1875-1926. Admired by his contemporary poets, but not well-known among the general public until after his death, Rainer Maria Rilke is now considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. He is especially famous for the nonfiction Letters to a Young Poet, for The Duino Elegies, and for the oft-anthologized poem, "The Archaic Torso of Apollo."

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Rainer Maria Rilke at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 8, No. 4, where "You who never arrived" ran on February 15, 2009. List other work with these same labels: poetry, classic, translation.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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