Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership


See and share Beautiful Nature Photos and amazing photos of interesting places




Best Famous Rainer Maria Rilke Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Rainer Maria Rilke poems. This is a select list of the best famous Rainer Maria Rilke poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Rainer Maria Rilke poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of rainer maria rilke poems.

Search for the best famous Rainer Maria Rilke poems, articles about Rainer Maria Rilke poems, poetry blogs, or anything else Rainer Maria Rilke poem related using the PoetrySoup search engine at the top of the page.

See also: Best Member Poems

Go Back

by Rainer Maria Rilke |

DUINO ELEGIES

The First Elegy


Who if I cried out would hear me among the angels'
hierarchies? and even if one of them pressed me 
suddenly against his heart: I would be consumed
I that overwhelming existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we still are just able to endure and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying.
And so I hold myself back and swallow the call-note Of my dark sobbing.
Ah whom can we ever turn to in our need? Not angels not humans and already the knowing animals are aware that we are not really at home in our interpreted world.
Perhaps there remains for us some tree on a hillside which every day we can take into our vision; there remains for us yesterday's street and the loyalty of a habit so much at ease when it stayed with us that it moved in and never left.
Oh and night: there is night when a wind full of infinite space gnaws at out faces.
Whom would it not remain for-that longed-after mildly disillusioning presence which the solitary heart so painfully meets.
Is it any less difficult for lovers? But they keep on using each other to hide their own fate.
Don't you know yet? Fling the emptiness out of your arms Into the spaces we breathe; perhaps the birds will feel the expanded air with more passionate flying.
Yes-the springtime needed you.
Often a star was waiting for you to notice it.
A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past or as you walked under an open window a violin yielded itself to your hearing.
All this was mission.
But could you accomplish it? Weren't you always Distracted by expectation as if every event announced a beloved? (Where can you find a place to keep her with all the huge strange thoughts inside you going and coming and often staying all night.
) But when you feel longing sing of women in love; for their famous passion is still not immortal.
Sing of women abandoned and desolate (you envy them almost) who could love so much more purely than those who were gratified.
Begin again and again the never-attainable praising; remember: the hero lives on; even his downfall was merely a pretext for achieving his final birth.
But Nature spent and exhausted takes lovers back into herself as if there were not enough strength to create them a second time.
Have you imagined Gaspara Stampa intensely enough so that any girl deserted by her beloved might be inspired by that fierce example of soaring objectless love and might say to herself Perhaps I can be like her ? Shouldn't this most ancient suffering finally grow more fruitful for us? Isn't it time that we lovingly freed ourselves from the beloved and quivering endured: as the arrow endures the bowstring's tension so that gathered in the snap of release it can be more than itself.
For there is no place where we can remain.
Voices.
Voices.
Listen my heart as only Saints have listened: until the gigantic call lifted them off the ground; yet they kept on impossibly kneeling and didn't notice at all: so complete was their listening.
Not that you could endure God's voice-far from it.
But listen to the voice of the wind and the ceaseless message that forms itself out of silence.
It is murmuring toward you now from those who died young.
Didn't their fate whenever you stepped into a church In Naples or Rome quietly come to address you? Or high up some eulogy entrusted you with a mission as last year on the plaque in Santa Maria Formosa.
What they want of me is that I gently remove the appearance of injustice about their death-which at times slightly hinders their souls from proceeding onward.
Of course it is strange to inhabit the earth no longer to give up customs one barely had time to learn not to see roses and other promising Things in terms of a human future; no longer to be what one was in infinitely anxious hands; to leave even one's own first name behind forgetting it as easily as a child abandons a broken toy.
Strange to no longer desire one's desires.
Strange to see meanings that clung together once floating away in every direction.
And being dead is hard work and full of retrieval before one can gradually feel a trace of eternity.
-Though the living are wrong to believe in the too-sharp distinctions which they themselves have created.
Angels (they say) don't know whether it is the living they are moving among or the dead.
The eternal torrent whirls all ages along in it through both realms forever and their voices are drowned out in its thunderous roar.
In the end those who were carried off early no longer need us: they are weaned from earth's sorrows and joys as gently as children outgrow the soft breasts of their mothers.
But we who do need such great mysteries we for whom grief is so often the source of our spirit's growth-: could we exist without them? Is the legend meaningless that tells how in the lament for Linus the daring first notes of song pierced through the barren numbness; and then in the startled space which a youth as lovely as a god had suddenly left forever the Void felt for the first time that harmony which now enraptures and comforts and helps us.


by Rainer Maria Rilke |

Spanish Dancer

As on all its sides a kitchen-match darts white
flickering tongues before it bursts into flame:
with the audience around her, quickened, hot,
her dance begins to flicker in the dark room.
And all at once it is completely fire.
One upward glance and she ignites her hair and, whirling faster and faster, fans her dress into passionate flames, till it becomes a furnace from which, like startled rattlesnakes, the long naked arms uncoil, aroused and clicking.
And then: as if the fire were too tight around her body, she takes and flings it out haughtily, with an imperious gesture, and watches: it lies raging on the floor, still blazing up, and the flames refuse to die - Till, moving with total confidence and a sweet exultant smile, she looks up finally and stamps it out with powerful small feet.


by Rainer Maria Rilke |

Self-Portrait

1906


The stamina of an old long-noble race
in the eyebrows' heavy arches.
In the mild blue eyes the solemn anguish of a child and here and there humility-not a fool's but feminine: the look of one who serves.
The mouth quite ordinary large and straight composed yet not willing to speak out when necessary.
The forehead still na?ve most comfortable in shadows looking down.
This as a whole just hazily foreseen- never in any joy of suffering collected for a firm accomplishment; and yet as though from far off with scattered Things a serious true work were being planned.


by Rainer Maria Rilke |

Portrait of My Father as a Young Man

In the eyes dream.
The brow as if it could feel something far off.
Around the lips a great freshness-seductive though there is no smile.
Under the rows of ornamental braid on the slim Imperial officer's uniform: the saber's basket-hilt.
Both hands stay folded upon it going nowhere calm and now almost invisible as if they were the first to grasp the distance and dissolve.
And all the rest so curtained with itself so cloudy that I cannot understand this figure as it fades into the background-.
Oh quickly disappearing photograph In my more slowly disappearing hand.


by Rainer Maria Rilke |

Before Summer Rain

Suddenly from all the green around you
something-you don't know what-has disappeared;
you feel it creeping closer to the window
in total silence.
From the nearby wood you hear the urgent whistling of a plover reminding you of someone's Saint Jerome: so much solitude and passion come from that one voice whose fierce request the downpour will grant.
The walls with their ancient portraits glide away from us cautiously as though they weren't supposed to hear what we are saying.
And reflected on the faded tapestries now: the chill uncertain sunlight of those long childhood hours when you were so afraid.


by Rainer Maria Rilke |

Going Blind

She sat just like the others as the table.
But on second glance she seemed to hold her cup a little differently as she picked it up.
She smiled once.
It was almost painful.
And when they finished and it was time to stand and slowly as chance selected them they left and moved through many rooms (they talked and laughed) I saw her.
She was moving far behind The others absorbed like someone who will soon have to sing before a large assembly; upon her eyes which were radiant with joy light played as on the surface of a pool.
She followed slowly taking a long time as though there were some obstacle in the way; and yet: as though once it was overcome she would be beyond all walking and would fly.


by Rainer Maria Rilke |

The Grownup

All this stood upon her and was the world
and stood upon her with all its fear and grace
as trees stand, growing straight up, imageless
yet wholly image, like the Ark of God,
and solemn, as if imposed upon a race.
As she endured it all: bore up under the swift-as-flight, the fleeting, the far-gone, the inconceivably vast, the still-to-learn, serenely as a woman carrying water moves with a full jug.
Till in the midst of play, transfiguring and preparing for the future, the first white veil descended, gliding softly over her opened face, almost opaque there, never to be lifted off again, and somehow giving to all her questions just one answer: In you, who were a child once-in you.
Translated by Stephen Mitchell


by Rainer Maria Rilke |

The Swan

The laboring through what is still undone
as though legs bound we hobbled along the way
is like the awkward walking of the sawn.
And dying-to let go no longer feel the solid ground we stand on every day- is like his anxious letting himself fall into the water which receives him gently and which as though with reverence and joy draws back past him in streams on either side; while infinitely silent and aware in his full majesty and ever more indifferent he condescends to glide.


by Rainer Maria Rilke |

The Gazelle

Gazella Dorcas


Enchanted thing: how can two chosen words
ever attain the harmony of pure rhyme
that pulses through you as your body stirs?
Out of your forehead branch and lyre climb

and all your features pass in simile through
the songs of love whose words as light as rose-
petals rest on the face of someone who
has put his book away and shut his eyes:

to see you: tensed as if each leg were a gun
loaded with leaps but not fired while your neck
holds your head still listening: as when

while swimming in some isolated place
a girl hears leaves rustle and turns to look:
the forest pool reflected in her face.


by Galway Kinnell |

Telephoning In Mexican Sunlight

 Talking with my beloved in New York
I stood at the outdoor public telephone
in Mexican sunlight, in my purple shirt.
Someone had called it a man/woman shirt.
The phrase irked me.
But then I remembered that Rainer Maria Rilke, who until he was seven wore dresses and had long yellow hair, wrote that the girl he almost was "made her bed in his ear" and "slept him the world.
" I thought, OK this shirt will clothe the other in me.
As we fell into long-distance love talk a squeaky chittering started up all around, and every few seconds came a sudden loud buzzing.
I half expected to find the insulation on the telephone line laid open under the pressure of our talk leaking low-frequency noises.
But a few yards away a dozen hummingbirds, gorgets going drab or blazing according as the sun struck them, stood on their tail rudders in a circle around my head, transfixed by the flower-likeness of the shirt.
And perhaps also by a flush rising into my face, for a word -- one with a thick sound, as if a porous vowel had sat soaking up saliva while waiting to get spoken, possibly the name of some flower that hummingbirds love, perhaps "honeysuckle" or "hollyhock" or "phlox" -- just then shocked me with its suddenness, and this time apparently did burst the insulation, letting the word sound in the open where all could hear, for these tiny, irascible, nectar-addicted puritans jumped back all at once, as if the air gasped.