Sonnet 6

Rainer Maria Rilke - 1875-1926
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.

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.

Black Cat

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:

just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.

She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them. But all at once

as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.
 

I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone 
    enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small 
    enough
to be to you just object and thing, 
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying 
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions, 
where something is up, 
to be among those in the know, 
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection, 
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection. 
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent; 
for there I would be dishonest, untrue. 
I want my conscience to be 
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed 
for a long time, one close up, 
like a new word I learned and embraced, 
like the everday jug, 
like my mother's face, 
like a ship that carried me along 
through the deadliest storm.