February: Winter Storm
(click on photo to enlarge)
Winter Chinook Storm "Be ahead of all departure, as if it were already
behind you, like the winter which is almost over."

In the mountains, snow is a way of life. Covering
the land for more than half of the year, the cultural
traditions which have over the centuries emerged
here have in a large part been shaped by snow.

This week, an image of a winter storm
together with a new translation of one
of Rilke's most famous poems.

If I know anything of the great play of light and darkness, I have learned it in the mountains.
Where this photograph was made, in the middle of a chinook storm with clear skies above and
fierce fallwinds below, the sun disappears behind a high ridge to the south for three months
of the year. The depth of shadows and winter cold is beyond all compare. But so is the depth
of winter silence, unbroken by the sound of highways and machines. Until the snow is
touched by the first warming rays of afternoon sunlight around the end of February, it
remains extraordinarily light and fluffy, with infinitely many shades of pure white
to grayish blue.

The guest poem for this week is from
Sonnets to Orpheus,
number 13 [SECOND PART], by
Rainer Maria Rilke:

Sei allem Abschied voran, als wäre er hinter
dir, wie der Winter, der eben geht.
Denn unter Wintern ist einer so endlos Winter,
daß, überwinternd, dein Herz überhaupt übersteht.

Sei immer tot in Eurydiuke—, singender steiger,
preisender steige zurück in den reinen Bezug.
Hier, unter Schwindenden, sei, im Reiche der Neige,
sei ein klingendes Glas, das sich im Klang schon zerschlug.

Sei—und wisse zugleich des Nicht-Seins Bedingung,
den unendlichen Grund deiner innigen Schwingung,
daß du sie völlig vollziehst dieses einzige Mal.

Zu dem gebrauchten sowohl, wie zum dumpfen und stummen

Vorrat der vollen Natur, den unsäglichen Summen,
zähle dich jubelend hinzu und vernichte die Zahl.

           Rainer Maria Rilke

Be ahead of all departure, as if it were already
behind you, like the winter which is almost over.
For among winters there is one so endlessly winter,
that, wintering through it, may your heart survive.

Be forever dead in Eurydice—, singing ascent,
praising ascent, returning to pure relation.
Here, among the disappearing, be, in the realm of decline,
be the ringing glass that shatters even as it sounds.

Be—and yet know Not-being's condition,
the infinite ground of your innermost movement,
that you may bring it to completion but this one time.

To that which used-up, as to nature's abundant
dumb and mute supply, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself and the result destroy.

             (tr. Cliff Crego)

(Listen to Cliff Crego read Sonnet 13 in German )

Here are a some of the other images of snow which are a part of the Picture/Poem display:

(1) Sharp Wind, Ski Tracks, Spring Snow
(2) Twenty Snowy Mountains
(3) Rising Sun, Setting Moon
(4) Snow Circles
(5) Ovid and No Trespassing
(6) Mountain Farmer with Six Milk Cows
(7) Red Ribbons in Snow Storm
(8) Two Lights, Fresh Snow


| 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 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 |
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Photographs and Texts © 2000 Cliff Crego
II.13.2000; Updated II.21.2000)