Distribution Automatique

Thursday, April 17

For Sandra
(Rainer Maria Rilke- Duino Elegies)

...Have you thought enough of Gaspara Stampa,
so that any girl whose lover ran off will feel,
from the heightened example of this loving woman:
"Ah, might I be like her!" Should not these oldest
sorrows finally become more fruitful for us?
Isn't it time that we lovingly free ourselves
from the beloved and stand it, although we tremble
as the arrow stands the bowstring, tense to be more than itself?
For abiding is nowhere.

Voices, voices. Listen, my heart, as hitherto only
saints have listened, so that the mighty call
lifted them from the earth, but they kept on kneeling,
these impossible ones, and paid no attention-
so hard they were listening. Not that yhou could bear
the voice of God- far from it. But hear the wind's blowing,
the uninterrupted tidings created from silence,
they sweep toward you now from those who died young.
Whenever you went into a church in Rome or Naples,
did not their fate speak quietly to you?
Or loftily an inscription charged itself upon you
as recently the tablet in Santa Maria Formosa.
What do you want of me? I must clear away gently
the semblance of injustice that sometimes hinders
a little the pure movement of their spirits.
True it is strange to live no more on earth,
no longer follow the folkways scarcely learned;
not to give roses or other especially auspicious
things the significance of a human future;
to be no more what one was in infinitely anxious hands,
and to put aside even one's name, like a broken plaything.
Strange to wish wishes no longer. Strange, to see
all that was related fluttering so loosely in space.
And being dead is hard, full of catching-up,
so that finally one feels a little eternity.-
But the living all make the mistake of too sharp discrimination.
Often angels (it's said) don't know if they move
among the quick or the dead. The eternal current
hurtles all ages along with it forever
through both realms and drowns their voices in both.

In the end, those taken early no longer need us;
one is gently weaned from earthly things,
even as he tenderly outgrows the breasts of his mother.
But we who need such mighty mysteries,
we for whom blessed avancement so often comes from grief:
*could* we exist without them? Is the legend i vain,
that once in the lamentation for Linos, the daring
first music pierced the barren numbness, and only
then in frightened space, which an almost godlike youth
suddenly forsook forever, the void began to feel
that vibration which now enraptures, consoles and helps us?