You who never arrived in my arms…
April 9, 2008

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 un-
suspected 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…

-Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell

Happy Poetry Month, all!

To receive a poem a day in your inbox, travel on over to Knopf Poetry.
For more info on RMR, try