Before Summer Rain – Poem by Rainer Maria Rilke

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



Rainer Maria Rilke – From Roses – Translated by David Need


Si ta fraîcheur parfois nous étonne tant,
heureuse rose,
c’est qu’en toi-même, en dedans,
pétale contre pétale, tu te reposes.
Ensemble tout éveillé, dont le milieu
dort, pendant qu’innombrables se touchent
les tendresses de ce coeur silencieux
qui aboutissent à l’extrême bouche.



If your blooming sometimes so astonishes us,
happy rose,
it’s that, petal against petal, you rest
within yourself, inside.

Fully awake, your petals, whose surroundings
sleep, though numberless, meet
this silent heart’s tendernesses
which end in these urgent lips.


Je te vois, rose, livre entrebaîllé,
qui contient tant de pages
de bonheur détaillé
qu’on ne lira jamais. Livre-mage,
qui s’ouvre au vent et qui peut être lu
les yeux fermés…,
dont les papillons sortent confus
d’avoir eu les mêmes idées.



I see you, rose, book half-opened,
having so many pages
of detailed happiness
we will never read. Mage-Book,

which is opened by the wind and can be read,
eyes shut …
from which butterflies scatter, confused
to have had the same ideas.


Une rose seule, c’est toutes les rose
et celle-ci: l’irremplaçable,
le parfait, le souple vocable
encadré par le texte des choses.
Comment jamais dire sans elle
ce que furent nos espérances,
et les tendres intermittences
dans la partance continuelle.



A single rose, it’s every rose
and this one—the irreplaceable one,
the perfect one—a supple spoken word
framed by the text of things.

How could we ever speak without her
of what our hopes were,
and of the tender moments
in the continual departure.


Été: être pour quelques jours
le contemporain des roses;
respirer ce qui flotte autour
de leurs âmes écloses.
Faire de chacune qui se meurt
une confidente,
et survivre à cette soeur
en d’autres roses absente.



Summer: to be for a few days
the contemporary of roses;
to breath what drifts about
their blooming spirits.

To make of each who dies,
a confidant,
and to outlive this sister
among the other, wandering roses.


Tout ce qui nous émeut, tu le partages.
Mais ce qui t’arrive, nous l’ignorons.
Il faudrait être cent papillons
pour lire toutes tes pages.
Il y en d’entre vous qui sont comme des dictionnaires;
ceux qui les cueillent
ont envie de faire relier toutes ces feuilles.
Moi, j’aime les roses épistolaires.



All that we feel, you share,
yet we ignore what happens to you.
There would have to be a hundred butterflies
to read all your pages.

There are ones among you like dictionaries;
those who gather these
are tempted to bind all the pages.
Me? I like the roses which are letters.

Rilke had chosen as his own epitaph this poem:

Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust,
Niemandes Schlaf zu sein unter soviel

Rose, oh pure contradiction, delight
of being no one’s sleep under so
many lids.

A myth developed surrounding his death and roses, which we see as a constant motif in his work. It was said: “To honour a visitor, the Egyptian beauty Nimet Eloui, Rilke [had] gathered some roses from his garden. While doing so, he pricked his hand on a thorn. This small wound failed to heal, grew rapidly worse, soon his entire arm was swollen, and his other arm became affected as well”, and so he died


Lange musst du leiden

Lange musst du leiden, kennend nicht was,
bis plötzlich aus gehässig erbissener Frucht
deines Leidens Geschmack eintritt in dir.
Und da liebst du schon fast das Gekostete. Keiner
redet dirs wieder aus

“Long you must suffer, knowing not what,
until suddenly out of spitefully chewed fruit, your suffering’s taste comes forth in you.

Then you will love almost instantly what’s tasted. No one will ever talk you out of it.”

Rainer Maria Rilke, 10.3.1913, Paris
Gedichte 1906 bis 1926.
(Sammlung der verstreuten und nachgelassenen Gedichte aus den mittleren und späten Jahren.)


Time and Again – Rainer Maria Rilke

Immer wieder, ob wir der Liebe Landschaft auch kennen
und den kleinen Kirchhof mit seinen klagenden Namen
und die furchtbar verschweigende Schlucht, in welcher die anderen
enden: immer wieder gehn wir zu zweien hinaus
unter die alten Bäume, lagern uns immer wieder
zwischen die Blumen, gegenüber dem Himmel.

Time and again, however we know the landscape of love
and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,
and the frighteningly silent abyss, into which the others
fall: time and again the two of us will walk out together
under the ancient trees, lie down time and again
among the flowers, the sky above us.

Rilke[1875-1926] was considered one of the greatest German lyric poets of his day. He created the ‘object poem’ as an attempt to describe with utmost clarity physical objects, the ‘silence of their concentrated reality.’


You are the future * Rainer Maria Rilke

Du bist die Zukunft, großes Morgenrot

Du bist die Zukunft, großes Morgenrot
über den Ebenen der Ewigkeit.
Du bist der Hahnschrei nach der Nacht der Zeit,
der Tau, die Morgenmette und die Maid,
der fremde Mann, die Mutter und der Tod.Du bist die sich verwandelnde Gestalt,
die immer einsam aus dem Schicksal ragt,
die unbejubelt bleibt und unbeklagt
und unbeschrieben wie ein wilder Wald.

Du bist der Dinge tiefer Inbegriff,
der seines Wesens letztes Wort verschweigt
und sich den Andern immer anders zeigt:
dem Schiff als Küste und dem Land als Schiff.

You are the future, The red sky before sunrise
Over the fields of time.You are the cock’s crow when night is done,
You are the dew and the bells of matins,
Maiden, stranger, mother, death.

You create yourself in ever-changing shapes
That rise from the stuff of our days–
Unsung, unmourned, undescribed,
Like a forest we never knew.

You are the deep innerness of all things,
The last word that can never be spoken.
To each of us you reveal yourself differently:
To the ship as coastline, to the shore as a ship.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 20.9.1901, Westerwede

Seven faced God: Mother, Maiden, Stranger, Death, Warrior

The Crone (holding a lantern), the Warrior (holding swords), the Mother (with open arms of mercy), the Father(holding scales of justice), the Maiden (a nude young woman), the Smith, and the Stranger (at lower left, not clearly visible; the Stranger represents death and the unknown

–From The Book of Pilgrimage by Rainer Maria Rilke; excerpted from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, Anita Barrows and Joanna Marie Macy, trans. (New York: Riverhead Trade, 2005), page 17

Thank you



Rainer Maria Rilke Poem of the Day: You who never arrived

Du im Voraus
verlorne Geliebte, Nimmergekommene,
nicht weiß ich, welche Töne dir lieb sind.
Nicht mehr versuch ich, dich, wenn das Kommende wogt,
zu erkennen. Alle die großen
Bildern in mir, im Fernen erfahrene Landschaft,
Städte und Türme und Brücken und un-
vermutete Wendung der Wege
und das Gewaltige jener von Göttern
einst durchwachsenen Länder:
steigt zur Bedeutung in mir
deiner, Entgehende, an.Ach, die Gärten bist du,
ach, ich sah sie mit solcher
Hoffnung. Ein offenes Fenster
im Landhaus—, und du tratest beinahe
mir nachdenklich heran. Gassen fand ich,—
du warst sie gerade gegangen,
und die spiegel manchmal der Läden der Händler
waren noch schwindlich von dir und gaben erschrocken
mein zu plötzliches Bild.—Wer weiß, ob derselbe
Vogel nicht hinklang durch uns
gestern, einzeln, im Abend?
You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house– , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…

About the poem: You Who Never Arrived is a poem of Rilke that is based upon his personal view that a man never finds his one true love in his lifetime. He talks about his Beloved who is within him, but constantly eludes him. Despite his longing for her, he has accepted the fact that he will never find her. In the conclusion of the poem he says that he knows that his Beloved is out there, somewhere looking for him just the way he is looking for her. But, every time fate intercepts in such a manner that every time they come tantalisingly close to each other, he loses her.


Mein Herz * Rainer Maria Rilke Poetry for Today

Ich weiß nicht, was ich habe,
mir ist ums Herz so schwer…..
Ums Herze? Ach was sag ich –
ich hab doch keines mehr.
Seit ich, mein Glück, dich kenne,
du süßes Liebchen mein,
vom ersten Augenblicke
an wars ja doch schon dein.
O mögst du es behalten,
damit es stets so blieb –
es soll ja dir gehören,
nur dir, mein süßes Lieb!
Giebs nie mehr mir zurücke –
es schlägt dir ja in Treu –
und willst du’s nicht mehr haben
mein Schatz, dann brichs entzwei.
(Band 3 S. 15)

Wonderful wedding poems

Now two are becoming one,
the black night is scattered,
the eastern sky grows bright.
At last the great day has come.


Buch der Bilder * Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke’s Buch der Bilder is a rich and subtle cycle of poems that has presented difficulties for many Rilke scholars. In this study, I begin by giving a brief overview of some of these difficulties, which are usually rooted in an adherence to biographical readings. I then move on to read key poems in the cycle, including “Auseinem April,” “Fragmente aus verlorenen Tagen,” “Die Engel” and “Der Schutzengel“. 
In these poems, there is a theory of poetic language, which I bring out using the back drop of Rilke’s prose works, as well as through comparison with key ideas in his other poetic cycles. I argue that Rilke expresses the complexity of our relationship to the Absolute via poetic language and seeks, to use a phrase from Paul de Man, to create a “conscious poetic language” (de Man 9) and a corresponding, restructured ego that paradoxically shields us from the Absolute and simultaneously connects us to it. We have no direct access to the Absolute, but we are able, through poetry and a very special kind of gesture, to hear its echoes.

Der Schutzengel * Rainer Maria Rilke

angel_holding_manDu bist der Vogel, dessen Flügel kamen,
wenn ich erwachte in der Nacht und rief.
Nur mit den Armen rief ich, denn dein Namen
ist wie ein Abgrund, tausend Nächte tief.
Du bist der Schatten, drin ich still entschlief,
und jeden Traum ersinnt in mir dein Samen, –
du bist das Bild, ich aber bin der Rahmen,
der dich ergänzt in glänzendem Relief.

You are the bird whose wings came
when I wakened in the night and called.
Only with my arms I called, because your name
is like a chasm, a thousand nights deep.
You are the shadows in which I quietly slept,
and your seed devised in me each dream, —
you are the image, but I am the frame
that makes you stand in glittering relief.