Thursday, July 27, 2017

Survival (from Rilke)


-- for Erin

Waking in the embrace of a friend,
who gives, after my death in her,
this best, dawn-lit survival back again,
where she is waiting as tender as a mother,

I look at my past through this ardor and see
nothing that she hasn't given, and I believe
it is she who created for me
this entire life I've been granted to live.

What joys have I had alone, elsewhere?
I recall but one:
I saw almond trees in flower, all in flower,
where the earth was brown....

-- Rainer Maria Rilke
(my translation)


De s'éveiller entre les bras de l'amie
qui après ma mort en elle,
me donne encore cette suprême survie
matinale qu'elle attend presque maternelle,

Je n'ai jamais rien eu qu'elle ne m'eût donné;
mon ardeur rétrospective
me fait croire que c'est elle qui crée
toute ma vie successive.

Quelle joie avais-je par moi-même ailleurs?
Je ne me rappelle qu'une:
des amandiers en fleurs que j'ai vus, tout en fleurs,
contre une terre brune...

1 comment:

  1. i'm wondering this morning on the nature of being saved (implicitly required for survival). for me it has a dual nature, to be recognized (heard, seen, witnessed) and then to be calmed. what more might see a soul and calm it (or might a soul see) than almond trees in flower over brown soil? or perhaps i should say, what less, for it is a balance of fruition with a threat (not threatening) of obliteration. somehow rilke recognizes the temporaneous, wise, loving nature of god with this simple vignette. the image is filled with such liminal gravity. he tells it to us, reminding us of what we already know.

    that you have found this through me... it defies sense.

    and yet it is through my senses and intuition, that have matured through loving you (while simultaneously strengthening their link to childhood and naiveté, always this duality), that i am able to take in this image and understand, know - love and god.

    gratitude is too small a word...