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Rainer Maria Rilke

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

The Sonnets To Orpheus: IV


O you tender ones, walk now and then
into the breath that blows coldly past,
Upon your cheeks let it tremble and part;
behind you it will tremble together again.

O you blessed ones, you who are whole,
you who seem the beginning of hearts,
bows for the arrows and arrows' targets--
tear-bright, your lips more eternally smile.

Don't be afraid to suffer; return
that heaviness to the earth's own weight;
heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.

Even the small trees you planted as children
have long since become too heavy; you could not
carry them now. But the winds...But the spaces....


Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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