August: Moving Up into Mountain Time II. . .
(click on image to enlarge)
Gathering together sheep, the Alps "Only the dead drink
from the spring heard by us here,
when the god silently waves to them, /
  the dead.

For us, noise is all that is offered.
And the lamb begs for its bell
out of a more quiet instinct."

from Sonnet XVI (SECOND PART),
from Sonnets to Orpheus
by Rainer Maria Rilke 

This week, an image called
Shepherd Rock, Gathering the sheep
—the Alps.
Also: two new
translations from the German.

The guest poems for this week are two new English translations from the work of the German
language poet,
Rainer Maria Rilke (from the Rilke website, a concise hyperlinked biography).

Moving Up into Mountain Time II. . .

Rilke wrote the Sonnets to Orpheus * at his modest chateau in Muzot, Switzerland, during a period
of intense activity in February of 1922. It was to be his last published work. The sequence of 55
poems, all sharing the same basic form and divided into two parts, is characterized by a marvelously
light and quick energy. Indeed, they seem filled with the exuberance of the mountains in which they
were composed, where everything seems larger than life, colors brighter and more radiant, and
streams faster and more clear.

This then is a poetry of praise, of the air I breathe, the meadow through which I walk, the beauty
of a single windflower opening to receive the morning sun, and yes, of praise itself:

| listen in both German and English in RealAudio |


Immer wieder von uns aufgerissen,
ist der Gott die Stelle, welche heilt.
Wir sind Scharfe, denn wir wollen wissen,
aber er ist heiter und verteilt.

Selbst die reine, die geweihte Spende
nimmt er anders nicht in seine Welt,
als indem er sich dem freien Ende
unbewegt entgegenstellt.

Nur der Tote trinkt
aus der hier von uns gehörten Quelle,
wenn der Gott ihm schweigend winkt, /
   dem Toten.

Uns wird nur das Lärmen angeboten.
Und das Lamm erbittet seine Schelle
aus dem stilleren Instinkt.

Torn away from us again and again
is the god of the place which heals.
We are sharp-edged, for we have to know,
but he is [un]divided and serene.

Even the pure, the consecrated gift
he declines to take into his world
for, unmoved, he stands contrary
to the unfettered conclusion.

Only the dead drink
from the spring heard by us here,
when the god silently waves to them, /
  the dead.

For us, noise is all that is offered.
And the lamb, out of a more quiet
instinct, begs for its bell.


Wandelt sich rasch auch die Welt
wie Wolkengestalten,
alles Vollendete fällt
heim zum Uralten.

Über dem Wandel und Gang,
weiter und freier,
währt noch dein Vor-Gesang,
Gott mit der Leier.

Nicht sind die Leiden erkannt,
nicht ist die Liebe gelernt,
und was im Tod uns entfernt,

ist nicht entschleiert.
Einzig das Lied überm Land
heiligt und feiert.

Even when the world swiftly changes,
as the form of clouds,
all things completed fall
back into the Primordial.

Above stride and change,
further and freer,
your prelude endures,
god with a lyre.

Sufferings have not been seen,
Love has not been learned,
and what removes us in Death,

has not been revealed.
Only the song over the land
hallows and rejoices.

| listen to Sonnet XIX [FIRST PART]... German / English one recording # |

| view / print P/P Poster: Sonnets to Orpheus XVI (2) (72 K) | or download as PDF |

* Orpheus is the musician of musicians of classical Greek mythology. He is the one
whose magical art of the lyre has the power to charm the whole of Nature—the trees,
rivers, stones and even the wild animals, into the silence of listening. Son of Calliope,
the muse of epic poetry, and a Thracian river-god (in some versions of the story Apollo),
Orpheus married the nymph Eurydice who was fated to die of a serpent bite on her heel.
In his profound grief, Orpheus follows his beloved into the underworld, and with the
sound of his lyre enchants the resident deities into consenting to her release. The one
condition which Orpheus has to meet during the ascent back to the upperworld is that
he is not to look back at Eurydice. In a brief moment of weakness, he does, however,
look back, whereby Eurydice vanishes forever without a trace.

Rejecting all women in his sadness afterwards, Orpheus is later ripped to pieces by the
Maenads. This then is the source of the famous image of Orpheus' lyre and singing head,
floating off through empty space to the island of Lesbos.

| see also the Rilke Posters Page |

listen to other recordings in English and German of twelve poems from
The Book of Images
The Rilke Download Page (# Includes instructions) |
See other recent additions of new English translations of
Rilke's poetry, together with
featured photographs at:

(37) August: Moving Up into Mountain Time

(36) August: Lily, unfloding . . .

See also a selection of recent Picture/Poem "Rilke in translation" features at the Rilke Archive.

See also another website
by Cliff Crego:
The Poetry of
Rainer Maria Rilke
a presentation of 80 of the
best poems of Rilke in
both German and
new English translations
biography, links, posters


"Straight roads,
Slow rivers,
Deep clay."
A collection of contemporary Dutch poetry
in English translation, with commentary
and photographs
by Cliff Crego

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Photograph/Texts of Translations © 1999 - 2001 Cliff Crego Photograph/Texts of Translations © 1999 - 2001 Cliff Crego

VIII.26.2001)revised: VIII.11.2002)