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The Second Elegy

Written by: Rainer Maria Rilke | Biography
 | Quotes (35) |
Every angel is terrifying.
And yet alas I invoked you almost deadly birds of the soul knowing about you.
Where are the days of Tobias when one of you veiling his radiance stood at the front door slightly disguised for the journey no longer appalling; (a young man like the one who curiously peeked through the window).
But if the archangel now perilous from behind the stars took even one step down toward us: our own heart beating higher and higher would bear us to death.
Who are you? Early successes Creation's pampered favorites mountain-ranges peaks growing red in the dawn of all Beginning -pollen of the flowering godhead joints of pure light corridors stairways thrones space formed from essence shields made of ecstasy storms of emotion whirled into rapture and suddenly alone: mirrors which scoop up the beauty that has streamed from their face and gather it back into themselves entire.
But we when moved by deep feeling evaporate; we breathe ourselves out and away; from moment to moment our emotion grows fainter like a perfume.
Though someone may tell us: Yes, you've entered my bloodstream, the room, the whole springtime is filled with you¡­ -what does it matter? he can't contain us we vanish inside him and around him.
And those who are beautiful oh who can retain them? Appearance ceaselessly rises in their face and is gone.
Like dew from the morning grass what is ours floats into the air like steam from a dish of hot food.
O smile where are you going? O upturned glance: new warm receding wave on the sea of the heart¡­ alas but that is what we are.
Does the infinite space we dissolve into taste of us then? Do the angels really reabsorb only the radiance that streamed out from themselves or sometimes as if by an oversight is there a trace of our essence in it as well? Are we mixed in with their features even as slightly as that vague look in the faces of pregnant women? They do not notice it (how could they notice) in their swirling return to themselves.
Lovers if they knew how might utter strange marvelous Words in the night air.
For it seems that everything hides us.
Look: trees do exist; the houses that we live in still stand.
We alone fly past all things as fugitive as the wind.
And all things conspire to keep silent about us half out of shame perhaps half as unutterable hope.
Lovers gratified in each other I am asking you about us.
You hold each other.
Where is your proof? Look sometimes I find that my hands have become aware of each other or that my time-worn face shelters itself inside them.
That gives me a slight sensation.
But who would dare to exist just for that? You though who in the other's passion grow until overwhelmed he begs you: No more¡­ ; you who beneath his hands swell with abundance like autumn grapes; you who may disappear because the other has wholly emerged: I am asking you about us.
I know you touch so blissfully because the caress preserves because the place you so tenderly cover does not vanish; because underneath it you feel pure duration.
So you promise eternity almost from the embrace.
And yet when you have survived the terror of the first glances the longing at the window and the first walk together once only through the garden: lovers are you the same? When you lift yourselves up to each other's mouth and your lips join drink against drink: oh how strangely each drinker seeps away from his action.
Weren't you astonished by the caution of human gestures on Attic gravestones? Wasn't love and departure placed so gently on shoulders that is seemed to be made of a different substance than in our world? Remember the hands how weightlessly they rest though there is power in the torsos.
These self-mastered figures know: "We can go this far This is ours to touch one another this lightly; the gods Can press down harder upon us.
But that is the gods' affair.
" If only we too could discover a pure contained human place our own strip of fruit-bearing soil between river and rock.
For our own heart always exceeds us as theirs did.
And we can no longer follow it gazing into images that soothe it into the godlike bodies where measured more greatly if achieves a greater repose.



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