May: The Poetry of Coming and Going
(click on image to enlarge)
Summer Moor, the Alps "A waving, already no longer /
    meant for me,
followed by lightly echoing /
   waves—, all
but inexplicable: a plum tree /
out of which a cuckoo, hastily, /
   flew away."

from Departure, a poem
by Rainer Maria Rilke 

This week, an image called
Reeds, Visitors, Mountain Moor.

Also: two new translations
from the German.

The guest poems for this week are two new English translations from the work of the German
language poet,
Rainer Maria Rilke (from the Rilke website, a concise hyperlinked biography).

| listen in English and German: RealAudio c. 5' |

Ich bin auf der Welt zu allein und doch /
   nicht allein genug,
um jede Studen zu weihen.
Ich bin auf der Welt zu gering und doch /
   nicht klein genug,
um vor dir zu sein wie ein Ding,
dunkel und klug.
Ich will meinen Willen und will meinen /
   Willen begleiten
die Wege zur Tat;
und will in stillen, irgendwie zörgernden Zeiten,
wenn etwas naht,
unter den Wissenden sein
oder allein.
Ich will dich immer spiegeln in ganzer /
und will niemals blind sein oder zu alt,
um dein schweres schwankendes Bild zu halten.
Ich will mich entfalten.
Nirgends will ich gebogen bleiben,
denn dort bin ich gelogen, wo ich /
  gebogen bin.
Und ich will meinen Sinn
wahr vor dir. Ich will mich beschreiben
wie ein Bild, das ich sah,
lange und nah,
wie ein Wort, das ich begriff,
wie meinen täglichen Krug,
wie meiner Mutter Gesicht,
wie ein Schiff,
das mich trug
durch den tödlichsten Sturm.
I'm too alone in the world, and yet not  /
alone enough
to make every hour holy.
I am too small in the world, and yet not /
tiny enough
just to stand before you like a thing,
dark and shrewd.
I want my will, and I want to be with /
my will
as it moves towards deed;
and in those quiet, somehow hesitating times,
when something is approaching,
I want to be with those who are wise
or else alone.
I want always to be a mirror that reflects /
  your whole being,
and never to be too blind or too old
to hold your heavy, swaying image.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere do I want to remain folded,
for where I am bent and folded, there /
   I am lie.
And I want my meaning
true for you. I want to describe myself
like a painting that I studied
closely for a long, long time,
like a word I finally understood,
like the pitcher of water I use every day ,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that carried me
through the deadliest storm of all.


Wie hab ich das gefühlt was Abscied heisst.
Wie weiss ich noch: ein dunkles unverwundnes
grausames Etwas, das ein Schönverbundnes
noch einmal zeigt und hinhält und zerreisst.

Wie war ich ohne Wehr, dem zuzuschauen,
das, da es mich, mich rufend, gehen liess,
zurückblieb, so als wärens alle Frauen
und dennoch klein und weiss und nicht dies:

Ein Winken, schon nicht mehr auf mich bezogen,
ein leise Weiterwinkendes—, schon kaum
erklärbar mehr: vielleicht ein Plaumenbaum,
von dem ein Kuchuck hastig abgeflogen.

   Rainer Maria Rilke

How I've come to sense this thing called departure.
How I still know: a dark unscathed
cruel something, holding up a delicate braid,
showing it to us again, only to tear it apart.

How defenseless I was, looking upon
that which, calling to me as it left me,
remained behind, as if it were all women
and yet small and white and not quite that:

A waving, already no longer meant for me,
followed by lightly echoing waves—, all
but inexplicable: a plum tree perhaps
out of which a cuckoo, hastily, flew away.

  (tr. Cliff Crego)

| view / print Picture/Poem Poster: Departure (83 K) | or download as PDF |

| see also the Rilke Posters |

| Archive Recordings: listen to I'm too alone in the world...  German original; listen to English trnaslation # |

| listen to Departure in German original; listen to English trnaslation # |

| listen to other recordings in English and German of twelve poems from
The Book of Images
at The Rilke Download Page
(# Includes instructions) |
See other recent additions of new English translations of
Rilke's poetry, together with
featured photographs at:

(30) May: Alder Spring

(29) April: Willow Spring

See also a selection of recent Picture/Poem "Rilke in translation" features at the Rilke Archive.

See also another website
by Cliff Crego:
The Poetry of
Rainer Maria Rilke
a presentation of 80 of the
best poems of Rilke in
both German and
new English translations
biography, links, posters


"Straight roads,
Slow rivers,
Deep clay."
A collection of contemporary Dutch poetry
in English translation, with commentary
and photographs
by Cliff Crego

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Photograph/Texts of Translations © 1999 - 2001 Cliff Crego

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