Rilke, Rainer Maria - 02 First Elegy
Type of Spiritual Experience
Herbert James Draper
A description of the experience
Duino Elegies – Rainer Maria Rilke [The First Elegy]
Yes, the Spring-times needed you deeply.
Many a star must have been there for you so you might feel it.
A wave lifted towards you out of the past,
or, as you walked past an open window, a violin gave of itself.
All this was their mission.
But could you handle it? Were you not always,
still, distracted by expectation, as if all you experienced,
like a Beloved, came near to you?
(Where could you contain her, with all the vast strange thoughts in you
going in and out, and often staying the night.)
But if you are yearning, then sing the lovers:
for long their notorious feelings have not been immortal enough.
Those, you almost envied them, the forsaken, that you
found as loving as those who were satisfied.
Begin, always as new, the unattainable praising:
think: the hero prolongs himself, even his falling
was only a pretext for being, his latest rebirth.
But lovers are taken back by exhausted Nature into herself,
as if there were not the power to make them again.
Have you remembered Gastara Stampa sufficiently yet,
that any girl, whose lover has gone, might feel from that
intenser example of love:
‘Could I only become like her?’
Should not these ancient sufferings be finally fruitful for us?
Isn’t it time that, loving, we freed ourselves from the beloved,
and, trembling, endured as the arrow endures the bow,
so as to be, in its flight, something more than itself?
For staying is nowhere.