September: Mountain Fall
(click on image to enlarge)
Sringwater Fountain, the Alps "Out of infinite longings rise
finite deeds like weak fountains,
falling back just in time and trembling.
And yet, what otherwise remains silent,
our happy energies—show themselves
in these dancing tears."

the Initial (BOOK TWO),
from The Book of Images
by Rainer Maria Rilke 

This week, an image called
Mountain Fall.
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).

Mountain Fall

In the mountains, winter never really goes away. The sight of freshly
fallen snow on the summer glacier—which can come at any moment—
is a constant reminder of the cold and the snow of the winter months.
And when winter does return, it comes in waves, descending as it were
from the peaks above down into the lower valleys, each time a little bit
further, each time lingering a little bit longer until its deep blanket of white
is finally there to stay.

It is a beautiful rhythm to observe, to be a part of. With the coming of
Fall Equinox, everything slows down. The streams run less fast (and
are easier to ford); The vibrant intensity of summer colors gives way
to more subtle, muted shades. Mists rise up like dragon tongues from
the lowlands below and then recede as if an entire day were but a single
breath. But above the flowing waters and meadows and seas of mists
there resides an open, pathless country, far above even the smallest
of trees. On a good day, one can see to infinity and back. I have always
felt that this is poetry's most natural home, for we do climb at once
both up above the clouds, but also back in time to some kind of essence.
And this essence has everywhere the ring of granite and ice about it,
the ring of some kind of primal truth. How far and distant all the noise
and chatter of artists' cafés and television talkshows seem from this

The two miniatures offered here in new translations are two of Rilke's
most famous pieces, both from
The Book of Images. (What a magnificent
title that is!) Notice that the texts are full of images of natural movement.
Perhaps that is why they resonate so deeply and instantly with so
many readers/listeners. And perhaps that is also why they remain so
fresh and alive today, even 100 years after they were first composed:


Aus unendlichen Sehnsüchten steigen
endliche Taten wie schwache Fontänen,
die sich zeitig und zitternd neigen.
Aber, die sich uns sonst verschweigen,
unsere fröhlichen kräfte—zeigen
sich in diesen tanzenden Tränen.

Out of infinite longings rise
finite deeds like weak fountains,
falling back just in time and trembling.
And yet, what otherwise remains silent,
our happy energies—show themselves
in these dancing tears.


Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,
als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;
sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde.

Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde
aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit.

Wir allen fallen. Diese Hand da fällt.
Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen.

Und doch ist einer, welcher dieses Fallen
undendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält.

The leaves are falling, falling as if from afar,
as if withered in the distant gardens of heaven;
with nay-saying gestures they fall.

And in the nights falls the heavy earth
from all the stars into loneliness.

We all are falling. This hand there falls.
And look at the other: it is in all of them.

And yet there is one, who holds all this
falling with infinite gentleness in his hands.

| listen to a Prelude to Autumn for solo guitar, by Cliff Crego (REQUIRES QuickTime) |

clip of autumn

| view / print Picture/Poem Poster: Autumn (86 K) | or download as PDF |

| Selected Sonnets to Orpheus twenty-two poems in the order they have been featured (text only) | PDF of Six Sonnets |
| see also the Rilke Posters |

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

(39) September: Clear Water 

(38) August: Mountains of the Heart . . .

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

| back to Picture/Poems: Central Display |
| Map | TOC: I-IV | TOC: V-VIII | Image Index | Index | Text OnlyDownload Page | Newsletter | About P/P | About Cliff Crego |

Photograph/Texts of Translations © 1999 - 2001 Cliff Crego

IX.23.2001) Comments to