Tony Walton

Rookie (4 March 1950 / London, England)

Rilke's Advice To Our Child - Poem by Tony Walton

The sitting gambler sweeps the board. Be still;
And, by happy mimicry of this life,
We shall truly find ourselves within it;
For there is nothing in it means us ill.
We find our courage in the teeth of strife:
Whatever you wish to do, begin it.

If there are terrors, they are but our fears.
We must strive to love each trap and danger.
We water roses with our heartfelt tears.
An unknown friend found in every stranger.
The most difficult truth of all: to hold
To the difficult; let it make us bold.

To slay our dragons in the dead of night
We lose a golden opportunity.
We must adjust our sight to fresh vision.
For every one of those dragons just might
Be a princess, whose importunity
Impels us to a new, true revision:

A princess who implores us to be brave
And beautiful; only we can save her.
She is our terror, that we let enslave
Our fearful hearts. It is we who gave her
This dragon-aspect, causing us to yelp.
She is our helplessness that seeks our help.

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

The first sentence of the first stanza is from the Victorian nature writer Richard Jefferies; the last line from Goethe (following on from 'Boldness has genius, power and magic in it') . Apart from the commonplace wisdom of the middle lines of the second stanza, the rest of the advice is from the eighth of Rainer Maria Rilke's 'Letters to a Young Poet' (Franz Kappus) written in August 1904.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Poem Edited: Wednesday, August 22, 2012

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