February 2024, Poetry

You in Preview (Paris in the Winter of 1913-14)

By Rainier Maria Rilke, translated by Marc J. Elzenbeck

You who I foresee
the lost beloved who never comes
I won’t know your favorite songs
so have stopped trying to stop
the waves of your next moments
which will surely obliterate this landscape.

The cities, towers and bridges
twist and turn in their courses
of lands forever trembling
in the thrall of intermingling gods
who fight and resist, rise but elude
the unexpected is where I’ll find you.

That was you in the gardens 
that I saw with such great hope.
But for an open window you almost
bumped into me at the farmhouse
and I’ve found the streets where you 
had just departed, hearing your footsteps.

Sometimes your face appears in mirrors
you’re so beautiful the movers drop them
and stare at the shards as if I’m to blame.
But who knows? Maybe the same bird sang
and his warbles rang through us both
alone into our souls yesterday evening.

February 9, 2024

About Author