Rainer Maria Rilke: “Call Upon Me” (from Sonnets to Orpheus, II:23)

Call Upon Me (from Sonnets to Orpheus, II:23)

Call upon me when that hour comes around,
the hour that endlessly excludes you,
the hour that pleads with the eyes of a hound,
and then suddenly turns, and again eludes you,

just when you thought it could finally be taken.
You find what is ruined is what is most your own.
How free we are. We are free to be forsaken
where we once expected kindness to be shown.

Fearfully, we cry out for something to hold,
too young, sometimes, to grasp what is old,
and too old to exist for what has not yet been.

But we are only as right as the thankfulness we feel,
for we are the branch and the axe made of steel.
And we nurture the sweetness of danger within.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated from German by Paul Weinfield, © 2016
Photo by Isa Marcelli
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