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Rainer Maria Rilke

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

The Neighbor


Strange violin, why do you follow me?
In how many foreign cities did you
speak of your lonely nights and those of mine.
Are you being played by hundreds? Or by one?

Do in all great cities men exist
who tormented and in deep despair
would have sought the river but for you?
And why does your playing always reach me?

Why is it that I am always neighbor
to those lost ones who are forced to sing
and to say: Life is infinitely heavier
than the heaviness of all things.


Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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