Annunciation

10 Jun

By Rainier Maria Rilke

(Words of the Angel)

You are not nearer God than we;
he is far from everyone.
and yet your hands most wonderfully
reveal his benison.
From woman’s sleeves none ever grew
so ripe, so shimmeringly;
I am the day, I am the dew,
you, Lady are the Tree.

Pardon, now my long journey’s done,
I had forgot to say
what he who sat in the sun,
grand in his gold array,
told me to tell you, pensive one
(space has bewildered me).
I am the start of what’s begun,
you Lady, are the Tree.

I spread my wings out wide and rose,
the space around grew less;
your little house quite overflows
with my abundant dress.
But still you keep your solitude
and hardly notice me:
I’m but a breeze within the wood,
you, Lady are the Tree.
The angels tremble in their choir,
grow pale, and separate:
never were longing and desire
so vague and yet so great.
Something perhaps is going to be
that you perceived in dream.
Hail to you! for my soul can see
that you are ripe and teem.

You lofty gate, that any day
may open for our good:
you eat my longing songs assay,
my word – I know now – lost its way
in you as in a wood.
And thus your last dream was designed
to be fulfilled by me.
God looked at me: he made me blind . . .
You, Lady are the Tree.

Selected Poems RILKE; Translated with an Introduction by J. B. Leishman (Penguin Books Ltd. Harmonsworth, Middlesex, England Copyright 1964 Reprinted 1967) p.26

In July 1902, a month before his first arrival in Paris, Rilke had published the first edition of his Book of Images (Buch der Bilder), containing poems written between 1898 and 1901, poems which might perhaps be described as neo-romantic, with, at their best, a peculiar combination of the descriptive, the evocative, and the symbolic, but still, for the most part. and in comparison with what he was soon to achieve, more or less obviously ‘poetic’ treatments of obviously ‘poetic’ subjects and moods.

Ibid. p.14

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