Rainer Maria Rilke

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

The Song Of The Widow


In the beginning life was good to me;
it held me warm and gave me courage.
That this is granted all while in their youth,
how could I then have known of this.
I never knew what living was----.
But suddenly it was just year on year,
no more good, no more new, no more wonderful.
Life had been torn in two right down the middle.

That was not his fault nor mine
since both of us had nothing but patience;
but death has none.
I saw him coming (how rotten he looked),
and I watched him as he took and took:
and nothing was mine.

What, then, belonged to me; was mine, my own?
Was not even this utter wretchedness
on loan to me by fate?
Fate does not only claim your happiness,
it also wants your pain back and your tears
and buys the ruin as something useless, old.

Fate was present and acquired for a nothing
every expression my face is capable of,
even to the way I walk.
The daily diminishing of me went on
and after I was emptied fate gave me up
and left me standing there, abandoned.


Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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