Rainer Maria Rilke: “Come, You Are the Last”

Come, You Are the Last

Come, you are the last to whom I can turn,
you hopeless agony in my body’s frail frame:
as I once burned in spirit, so too now I burn
in you, like wood that still fights against the flame

you have lit and brought to completeness.
Now behold, in you I am nourished and fed.
Your fire has changed my natural sweetness
to a fury belonging to the land of the dead.

I was free of the future, pure, with no plan
as I climbed the stake of misery to its peak,
determined not to grasp at what lay at hand
or store it in my heart that would not speak.

So am I the one still burning there alone?
The image is disfigured, with no memories to guide it.
O life, O life: if I could only be outside it.
But I’m in flames, without a soul, unknown.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated from German by Paul Weinfield, © 2015
Photo by Michelle Brea

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