Rilke, Rainer Maria - 34 Eighth Elegy
Type of spiritual experience
A description of the experience
Duino Elegies – Rainer Maria Rilke [The Eighth Elegy]
The creature gazes into openness with all its eyes.
But our eyes are as if they were reversed, and surround it,
everywhere, like barriers against its free passage.
We know what is outside us from the animal’s face alone:
since we already turn the young child round and make it look
backwards at what is settled, not that openness
that is so deep in the animal’s vision.
Free from death.
We alone see that:
the free creature has its progress always behind it,
and God before it,
and when it moves, it moves in eternity, as streams do.
We never have pure space in front of us, not for a single day, such as flowers open
Always there is world,
and never the Nowhere without the Not:
the pure, unwatched-over, that one breathes and endlessly knows, without craving.
As a child loses itself sometimes, one with the stillness, and is jolted back.
Or someone dies and is it.
Since near to death one no longer sees death, and stares ahead,
perhaps with the large gaze of the creature.
Lovers are close to it, in wonder,
If the other were not always there closing off the view.....
As if through an oversight it opens out behind the other......
But there is no way past it, and it turns to world again.
Always turned towards creation, we see
only a mirroring of freedom dimmed by us.
Or that an animal mutely, calmly is looking through and through us.
This is what fate means: to be opposite,
and to be that and nothing else, opposite, forever
If there was consciousness like ours in the sure creature,
that moves towards us on a different track –
it would drag us round in its wake.
But its own being is boundless, unfathomable,
and without a view of its condition,
pure as its outward gaze.
And where we see future it sees everything,
and itself in everything, and is healed for ever.