In April

- 1875-1926

Again the woods are odorous, the lark
Lifts on upsoaring wings the heaven gray
That hung above the tree-tops, veiled and dark,
Where branches bare disclosed the empty day.

After long rainy afternoons an hour
Comes with its shafts of golden light and flings
Them at the windows in a radiant shower,
And rain drops beat the panes like timorous wings.

Then all is still. The stones are crooned to sleep
By the soft soundof rain that slowly dies;
And cradled in the branches, hidden deep
In each bright bud, a slumbering silence lies.

More by Rainer Maria Rilke

Evening

The bleak fields are asleep,
My heart alone wakes;
The evening in the harbour
Down his red sails takes.

Night, guardian of dreams,
Now wanders through the land;
The moon, a lily white,
Blossoms within her hand.

Sonnet 6

Is he native to this realm? No,
his wide nature grew out of both worlds.
They more adeptly bend the willow's branches
who have experience of the willow's roots.

When you go to bed, don't leave bread or milk
on the table: it attracts the dead—
But may he, this quiet conjurer, may he
beneath the mildness of the eyelid

mix their bright traces into every seen thing;
and may the magic of earthsmoke and rue
be as real for him as the clearest connection.

Nothing can mar for him the authentic image;
whether he wanders through houses or graves,
let him praise signet ring, gold necklace, jar.

Presaging

I am like a flag unfurled in space,
I scent the oncoming winds and must bend with them,
While the things beneath are not yet stirring,
While doors close gently and there is silence in the chimneys
And the windows do not yet tremble and the dust is still heavy—
Then I feel the storm and am vibrant like the sea
And expand and withdraw into myself
And thrust myself forth and am alone in the great storm.

Related Poems

Tanka

I. 

Winter? Spring? Who knows? 
White buds from the plumtrees wing 
And mingle with the snows. 
No blue skies these flowers bring, 
Yet their fragrance augurs Spring. 

II. 

Oh, were the white waves, 
Far on the glimmering sea 
That the moonshine laves, 
Dream flowers drifting to me,—
I would cull them, love, for thee. 

III. 

Moon, somnolent, white, 
Mirrored in a waveless sea, 
What fickle mood of night 
Urged thee from heaven to flee 
And live in the dawnlit sea? 

IV. 

Like mist on the leas, 
Fall gently, oh rain of Spring 
On the orange trees 
That to Ume's casement cling—
Perchance, she'll hear the love-bird sing. 

V. 

Though love has grown cold 
The woods are bright with flowers, 
Why not as of old 
Go to the wildwood bowers 
And dream of--bygone hours! 

VI. 

Tell, what name beseems 
These vain and wandering days! 
Like the bark of dreams 
That from souls at daybreak strays 
They are lost on trackless ways.

Virginia Street

February on another coast is April
here. Astrology is months: 
you are February, or are you 
June, and who is 
December? Who is books 
read in spring, wingspan 
between midnight 
and mourning
 
Another starry tree, coastal 
counterpoint where magnolia is 
a brighter season
peach and pear
are grafted onto the same tree
fear and fat stick
to the same sprained bone
For this adolescent reprise
recycle everything trivial
but this time bring
the eye into sight:
make sight superior
to what is seen
 
A decade is to look at June 
and see April
to look at April 
and see February
Relief of repetition
seasons mean again,
one flowering branch suspended
in the half-light of spring
We sat on steps 
beneath a tree
No: I walked by
The tree bloomed
and I looked up 

April

The morning sky is clouding up
and what is that tree,
dressed up in white? The fruit
tree, French pear. Sulphur-
yellow bees stud the forsythia
canes leaning down into the transfer
across the park. And trees in
skimpy flower bud suggest
the uses of paint thinner, so
fine the net they cast upon
the wind. Cross-pollination
is the order of the fragrant day.
That was yesterday: today is May,
not April and the magnolias
open their goblets up and
an unseen precipitation
fills them. A gray day in May.