“Let this Darkness Be a Belltower” by Rilke (Two Translations)

Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.

Let this darkness be a bell tower and you the bell.

As you ring,


what batters you becomes your strength.

Move back and forth into the change.

What is it like, such intensity of pain?

If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.


In this uncontainable night,

be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,

the meaning discovered there.


And if the world has ceased to hear you,

say to the silent earth: I flow.

To the rushing water, speak: I am.


~Trans. by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows


Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29


Silent friend of many distances,

feel how your breath is still expanding space.

Let yourself peal among the beams

of dark belfries. Whatever preys


on you will grow strong from this nourishment.

Know transformation through and through.

What experience has been most painful to you?

If the drinking’s bitter, turn to wine.


In this vast night, be the magic power

at your senses’ intersection,

the meaning of their strange encounter.


And if the earthly has forgotten

you, say to the still earth: I flow.

To the rushing water speak: I am.


~The Sonnets to Orpheus II:29

Trans. by A. Poulin Jr.

* Thanks to John J. Thatamanil who posted this on his facebook page on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 12:49am

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