Poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke

Archaic Torso of Apollo 
by Rainer Maria Rilke 

We cannot know his legendary head 
with eyes like ripening fruit.  And yet his torso 
is still suffused with brilliance from inside, 
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low, 

gleams in all its power.  Otherwise 
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could 
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs 
to that dark center where procreation flared. 

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced 
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders 
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur: 

would not, from all the borders of itself, 
burst like a star:  for here there is no place 
that does not see you.  You must change your life. 

Somewhere to the East There's a Church 
by Rainer Maria Rilke 

Sometimes a man rises from the supper table 
and goes outside.  And he keeps on going 
because somewhere to the east there’s a church. 
His children bless his name as if he were dead. 

Another man stays at home until he dies, 
stays with plates and glasses. 
So, then it is his children who go out 
into the world, seeking the church that he forgot. 

Love Song 
by Rainer Maria Rilke 

God speaks to each of us as he makes us 
And then walks with us out of the night 

These are the words we dimly hear: 

You, sent out beyond your recall – 
Go to the limits of your longing. 
Embody me. 

You Darkness 
by Rainer Maria Rilke 

You Darkness from which I come, 
I love you more than all the fires 
that fence out the world, 
for the fire makes a circle 
for everyone 
so that no one sees you anymore. 

But darkness holds it all: 
the shape and the flame, 
the animal and myself, 
how it holds them, 
all powers, all sight – 
and it is possible:  its great strength 
is breaking into my body. 

I have faith in the night.