Rainer Maria Rilke: “I Am Too Alone In This World” (from The Book of Hours)

I Am Too Alone In This World (from The Book of Hours)

I am too alone in this world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour sacred.
I am too small in this world, yet not small enough
to stand before you as a simple thing,
mysterious and wise.
I want my will, and I want to be with my will
until its fulfillment;
and in the still, somehow hesitating times
when something else is approaching,
I want to be among those with vision
or else alone.

I want to reflect your form flawlessly,
and never be too blind or old
to hold your swaying, heavy image.

I want to unfold.

I want no crease anywhere in me,
for where I am bent, there I am untrue.
And I want my meaning
to be true for you too.
I want to describe myself
like a picture I once saw,
up close, for very long,
like a word I finally grasped,
like the pitcher of water I clasp each day,
like my mother’s face,
like a ship
that carried me
through the deadliest storm.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated from German by Paul Weinfield, © 2014
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