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Childhood

Wine becomes richer, oil becomes clear, in its vessel...

 

 

 

 

Childhood 

 

by Rainer Maria Rilke

 

 

It would be good to give much thought, before

you try to find words for something so lost,

for those long childhood afternoons you knew

that vanished so completely -and why?

 

We're still reminded-: sometimes by a rain,

but we can no longer say what it means;

life was never again so filled with meeting,

with reunion and with passing on

 

as back then, when nothing happened to us

except what happens to things and creatures:

we lived their world as something human,

and became filled to the brim with figures.

 

And became as lonely as a sheperd

and as overburdened by vast distances,

and summoned and stirred as from far away,

and slowly, like a long new thread,

introduced into that picture-sequence

where now having to go on bewilders us.

 

 

 

 

Little Tear-Vase

 

 

 

Other vessels hold wine, other vessels hold oil

inside the hollowed-out vault circumscribed by their clay.

I, as smaller measure, and as the slimmest of all,

humbly hollow myself so that just a few tears can fill me.

 

Wine becomes richer, oil becomes clear, in its vessel.

What happens with tears?-They made me blind in my

glass,

made me heavy and made my curve iridescent,

made me brittle, and left me empty at last.

 

 

Translated by Stephen Mitchell

 

 

 

Venetian Morning 

 

 

 

Windows pampered like princes always see

what on occasion deigns to trouble us:

the city that, time and again, where a shimmer

of sky strikes a feeling of floodtide,

 

takes shape without once choosing to be.

Each new morning must first show her the opals

she wore yesterday, and pull rows

of reflections out of the canal

and remind her of the other times:

only then does she concede and settle in

 

like a nymph who received great Zeus.

The dangling earrings ring out at her ear;

but she lifts San Giorgio Maggiore

and smiles idly into that lovely thing.

 

 

Translated by Edward Snow

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