POETRY IS LIKE TAKING A DEEP BREATH

Friday, 13 April 2012

ARCHAIC TORSO OF APOLLO




We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in wich his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur;

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star; for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.



Rainer Maria Rilke
1875-1926


translated from the German by Stephen Mitchell



Bold italics in the last line are mine.


Archaïscher Torso Apollos
Wir kannten nicht sein unerhörtes Haupt,
darin die Augenäpfel reiften. Aber
sein Torso glüht noch wie ein Kandelaber,
in dem sein Schauen, nur zurückgeschraubt,
sich hält und glänzt. Sonst könnte nicht der Bug
der Brust dich blenden, und im leisen Drehen
der Lenden könnte nicht ein Lächeln gehen
zu jener Mitte, die die Zeugung trug.
Sonst stünde dieser Stein entstellt und kurz
unter der Schultern durchsichtigem Sturz
und flimmerte nicht so wie Raubtierfelle
und bräche nicht aus allen seinen Rändern
aus wie ein Stern: denn da ist keine Stelle,
die dich nicht sieht. Du mußt dein Leben ändern.


4 comments:

  1. confident, assured, & domineering on surface, but frail underneath. ~Mary

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have among the stacks of books sitting beside me right now Edward Snow's translation of the poetry of Rilke. I bought it after reading another of his poems that, like this one, knocked me flat. That book has been beckoning me to pick it up for several weeks, and I haven't the excuse that I've been doing anything else sensible with my time. I must change my life.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think you've posted this poet's work before. I like it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Really nice. I like the italics you added. :)

    ReplyDelete

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