Saturday, May 16, 2009

For the Sake of Single Verse

For the sake of a single verse,
one must see many cities,
and things.
One must know the animals,
one must feel how the birds fly
and know the gesture with which the little flowers open in the morning.
One must be able to think back to roads in unknown regions,
to unexpected meetings
and to partings one had long seen coming;
to days of childhood that are still unexplained,
to parents whom one had to hurt when they brought one some joy
and did not grasp it (it was a joy for someone else);
to childhood illnesses that so strangely begin with such a number
of profound and grave transformations,
to days in rooms withdrawn and quiet
and to mornings by the sea,
to the sea itself,
to seas,
to nights of travel that rushed along on high and flew with all the stars
—and it is not yet enough if one may think of all this.
One must have memories of many nights of love,
none of which was like the others,
of the screams of women in labor,
and of light, white, sleeping women in childbed, closing again.
But one must also have been beside the dying,
must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the fitful noises.
And still it is not enough to have memories.
One must be able to forget them when they are many,
and one must have the great patience to wait until they come again.
For it is not yet the memories themselves.
Not till they have turned to blood within us,
to glance, and gesture, nameless,
and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves
—not till then can it happen that in a most rare hour
the first word of a verse arises in their midst
and goes forth from them.

Ranier Marie Rilke

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