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.
From Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Edward Snow. Copyright © 2004 by Edward Snow. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.