A door blew open, and a black river
flowed into the house. It was my river,
invisible except to me. At night
it would come to me, and carry the flimsy raft
of my bed away with it, so I could feel
the current’s preliminary cold caresses
throughout me, and hear its voices lapping
at the mind’s peripheries, promising
it would carry me into the world
inside this one, which it would.
I spent most of my childhood there,
in the granite mountains of the north,
where I might meet Odysseus on the trail,
or a centaur groomed for town,
his hooves gilt. I drank my river’s anesthesia,
but its immortal water goes on
gushing from a stone mouth,
saying what it knows all day, all night.
Like thunder it enters my body
without permission and stays
as long as it likes. If I submit
to its undertow, it lets me hold
a cold god almost in my arms.
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself loose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
Rainer Maria Rilke
(unsure whose translation)
The pond was a deep pond once,
The baits hung down
Like fruit, like shining fruit, lanterns
Attainable planets and we
Went busily choosing a heart’s delight
For the size of our mouths and rose flapping
Like Angels. Now
Here we are in a crowd
in a muddy six inch gasping
For worms and the shadows
Of peering fishermen
Have quite put out the light.
(Trans David Constantine and Ioana Russell-Gebbett