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« Poetics (Περί Ποιητικής) | Main | The Miracle of Moon Crescent »
Sunday
Sep272009

Rilke, "Die Kathedrale"

A work ("The Cathedral") by this Austrian poet.  You can read the original here.

In those small towns where every home 
Just like the year's fair, old and true
Has shut all shops in sudden view  
Of it in fear, in silent gloam; 

Then hawker, then the drumbeat stills 
To its awake and sharpened ear:
Since calm amidst its lapping hills,  
It sits and knows no house or fear. 

And in those towns you'll also note
Cathedrals grown past near and far.
Cathedrals whose arrival spoke 
Of nothing else, no sun or scar.  

And close looks gain on our own life;
Continually they elevate;                           
Like nothing else occurred, like fate    
In endless stacks in endless night.  

In stone and set in endless stead,            
Yet not what stirred on darkened streets  
That took those names which pure chance greets;
As children danced in green and red,                  

By hucksters cut by apron lines.    
These layers held both birth and day;
Strength, crush and fury then gave way, 
And love was rich like bread and wine.        

So porches filled with love's lament, 
And life delayed by clock's soft breath;
And in the towers' quelled ascent, 
and sudden spurn of skies, sat Death. 

Reader Comments (2)

I'm generally content with my decision not to learn German, but then, suddenly, disturbing the quiet of my complacency, I will recall Rilke.

September 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelancholy Korean

Kafka, Boell, Kant, Novalis, Goethe -- all could also disturb you even further. Thanks for the comments, Steven.

September 30, 2009 | Registered Commenterdeeblog

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