Rainer Maria Rilke

(4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926 / Prague / Czech Republic)

On Hearing Of A Death


We lack all knowledge of this parting. Death
does not deal with us. We have no reason
to show death admiration, love or hate;
his mask of feigned tragic lament gives us

a false impression. The world's stage is still
filled with roles which we play. While we worry
that our performances may not please,
death also performs, although to no applause.

But as you left us, there broke upon this stage
a glimpse of reality, shown through the slight
opening through which you dissapeared: green,
evergreen, bathed in sunlight, actual woods.

We keep on playiing, still anxious, our difficult roles
declaiming, accompanied by matching gestures
as required. But your presence so suddenly
removed from our midst and from our play, at times

overcomes us like a sense of that other
reality: yours, that we are so overwhelmed
and play our actual lives instead of the performance,
forgetting altogehter the applause.



Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Comments about this poem (On Hearing Of A Death by Rainer Maria Rilke )

  • Rookie Deanna Radcliffe (12/31/2009 3:50:00 PM)

    i think this peom is saying that as we go about our lives deaf no matter what goes on everywhere and even though it can seem to be bad it can be good.So we shouldn't hate it but we shouldn't like it either.And even when it has passed we still go about our daily lives but with a bit of the pain still there. and is it states forgetting all about the applause. {meaning maybe as it says the worlds a stage you forget about the audience infront and how they might hate it and just live in the reality.] (Report) Reply

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