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in a web of glass, pinned to the edges of vision

End of Poetry Month.

I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

mucha mosaic

End of Poetry Month.

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To commemorate the end of National Poetry Month, blog about your favorite poem and provide at least one link to other poems and/or a bio of the poet.

I don't know what it is about this poem, but it's always spoken to me; it just makes me feel a little lighter, a little less important and yet a little more where I belong. I've loved it for... gad, 17 years.
I'm LJ-cutting this because it's LOOONG. machen mit der klicky-klicky below, if you want to read a loooong poem.

The Second Elegy
Every angel is terrifying. And yet, alas, I invoke you,
     almost deadly birds of the soul, knowing about you.
Where are the days of Tobias, when one of you, veiling his radiance,
     stood at the front door, slightly disguised for the journey, no longer appalling;
     (a young man like the one who curiously peeked through the window).
But if the archangel now, perilous, from behind the stars took even one step down toward us:
     our own heart, beating higher and higher, would beat us to death.
Who are you?

Early successes, Creation's pampered favorites,
     mountain-ranges, peaks growing red in the dawn of all beginning,--
     pollen of the flowering godhead, joints of pure light,
     corridors, stairways, thrones, space formed from essence,
     shields made of ecstasy, storms of emotion whirled into rapture, and suddenly alone:
     mirrors, which scoop up the beauty that has streamed from their face
     and gather it back, into themselves, entire.

But we, when moved by deep feeling, evaporate; we breathe ourselves out and away;
     from moment to moment our emotion grows fainter, like a perfume.
Though someone may tell us: "Yes, you've entered my bloodstream, the room,
     the whole springtime is filled with you . . . "--what does it matter? he can't contain us,
     we vanish inside him and around him.
And those who are beautiful, oh who can retain them?
Appearance ceaselessly rises in their face, and is gone.
Like dew from the morning grass, what is ours floats into the air, like steam from a dish of hot food.
O smile, where are you going?
O upturned glance: new warm receding wave on the sea of the heart . . .
     alas, but that is what we are.
Does the infinite space we dissolve into, taste of us then?
Do the angels really reabsorb only the radiance that streamed out from themselves,
     or sometimes, as if by an oversight, is there a trace of our essence in it as well?
Are we mixed in with their features even as slightly as that vague look
     in the faces of pregnant women?
They do not notice it (how could they notice) in their swirling return to themselves.
Lovers, if they knew how, might utter strange, marvelous words in the night air.
For it seems that everything hides us.
Look: trees do exist; the houses that we live in still stand.
We alone fly past all things, as fugitive as the wind.
And all things conspire to keep silent about us, half out of shame perhaps, half as unutterable hope.

Lovers, gratified in each other, I am asking you about us.
You hold each other. Where is your proof?
Look, sometimes I find that my hands have become aware of each other,
     or that my time-worn face shelters itself inside them.
That gives me a slight sensation.
But who would dare to exist, just for that?
You, though, who in the other's passion grow until, overwhelmed, he begs you:
"No more . . . "; you who beneath his hands swell with abundance,
     like autumn grapes; you who may disappear because the other has wholly emerged:
I am asking you about us.
I know, you touch so blissfully because the caress preserves,
     because the place you so tenderly cover does not vanish;
     because underneath it you feel pure duration.
So you promise eternity, almost, from the embrace.
And yet, when you have survived the terror of the first glances,
     the longing at the window, and the first walk together, once only, through the garden:
     lovers, are you the same?
When you lift yourselves up to each other's mouth and your lips join,
     drink against drink: oh how strangely each drinker seeps away from his action.

Weren't you astonished by the caution of human gestures on Attic gravestones?
Wasn't love and departure placed so gently on shoulders
     that it seemed to be made of a different substance than in our world?
Remember the hands, how weightlessly they rest, though there is power in the torsos.
These self-mastered figures know: "We can go this far,
     this is ours, to touch one another this lightly; the gods can press down harder upon us.
But that is the gods' affair."

If only we too could discover a pure, contained, human place,
     our own strip of fruit-bearing soil between river and rock.
Four our own heart always exceeds us, as theirs did.
And we can no longer follow it,
     gazing into images that soothe it or into the godlike bodies where,
     measured more greatly, it achieves a greater repose.

-Rainier Maria Rilke (trans. Stephen Mitchell); you can learn more about Rilke here.
  • Rilke is just great, and I've always loved The Duino Elegies for the way they're such a wonderful depiction of the Sublime. (Pardon the theory nerd dancing around your LJ entry.)

    I could never choose which Elegy I liked best though. Anyway, thanks too for the heads-up on the meme. I think I shall post one myself.

    Great song playing, too.
    • This was the first Rilke poem I read. A highschool teacher waved Mitchell's translation under my nose, and I about had my eyes bug out of my skull, reading it.
      So to me, this one's the #1. But to someone else, well.
      There's a new Stranglers album out, titled 'Norfolk Coast'. Not available in the US yet, just Britain. But they charted with the first single, for cry-ay!
      • Eyes bugging out of skulls sounds just like my own experience with Rilke. *grins*

        And that's great news about the Stranglers, though I'm rather surprised (pleasantly, of course). I wish it'd reach the Philippines, but I'm not going to hold my breath...
  • If you haven't already pick a copy of this.
    of course Letters to a Young poet is great too. Personally, I like is his correspondence more, that may be because I don't read German.

    For you:

    The Grown-Up

    All this stood upon her and was the world
    and stood upon her with all its fear and grace
    as trees stand, growing straight up, imageless
    yet wholly image, like the Ark of God,
    and solemn, as if imposed upon a race.

    As she endured it all: bore up under
    the swift-as-flight, the fleeting, the far-gone,
    the inconceivably vast, the still-to-learn,
    serenely as a woman carrying water
    moves with a full jug. Till in the midst of play,
    transfiguring and preparing for the future,
    the first white veil descended, gliding softly

    over her opened face, almost opaque there,
    never to be lifted off again, and somehow
    giving to all her questions just one answer:
    In you, who were a child once-in you.

    Personaly I dig hard on
    The Panther and Song of the Sea.
    • Ah yes! "The Panther" was a poem I posted a month or so ago, when I had problems saying what I really wanted to say. Brilliant, brilliant writer. His prose poetry's very good, too, though I've yet to read my copy of the Malte Laurids Brigge (sp?) book.
  • favorite poems...

    The First Dream

    The Wind is ghosting around the house tonight
    and as I lean against the door of sleep
    I begin to think about the first person to dream,
    how quiet he must have seemed the next morning

    as the others stood around the fire
    draped in the skins of animals
    talking to each other only in vowels,
    for this was long before the invention of consonants.

    He might have gone off by himself to sit
    on a rock and look into the mist of a lake
    as he tried to tell himself what had happened,
    how he had gone somewhere without going,

    how he had put his arms around the neck
    of a beast that the others could touch
    only after they had killed it with stones,
    how he felt its breath on his bare neck.

    Then again, the first dream could have come
    to a woman, though she would behave,
    I suppose, much the same way,
    moving off by herself to be alone near water,

    except that the curve of her young shoulders
    and the tilt of her downcast head
    would make her appear to be terribly alone,
    and if you were there to notice this,

    you might have gone down as the first person
    to ever fall in love with the sadness of another.

    --Billy Collins

    no html - I feel lazy today: http://www.bigsnap.com/billy.html

    - and -

    since feeling is first
    who pays any attention
    to the syntax of things
    will never wholly kiss you;

    wholly to be a fool
    while Spring is in the world

    my blood approves,
    and kisses are a better fate
    than wisdom
    lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
    --the best gesture of my brain is less than
    your eyelids' flutter which says

    we are for each other:then
    laugh,leaning back in my arms
    for life's not a paragraph

    And death i think is no parenthesis

    -- e.e. cummings

    - and -

    somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
    any experience,your eyes have their silence:
    in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
    or which i cannot touch because they are too near

    your slightest look easily will unclose me
    though i have closed myself as fingers,
    you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
    (touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

    or if your wish be to close me,i and
    my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
    as when the heart of this flower imagines
    the snow carefully everywhere descending;

    nothing we are to perceive in this world equals
    the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
    compels me with the colour of its countries,
    rendering death and forever with each breathing

    (i do not know what it is about you that closes
    and opens;only something in me understands
    the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
    nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

    -- e.e. cummings

    okay, that's enough for now...
    (contemplating putting this in my own LJ)
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