Wednesday, February 17, 2010

world was in the face of the beloved

World was in the face of the beloved–,
but suddenly it poured out and was gone:
world is outside, world can not be grasped.

Why didn't I, from the full, beloved face
as I raised it to my lips, why didn't I drink
world, so near that I could almost taste it?

Ah, I drank. Insatiably I drank.
But I was filled up also, with too much
world, and, drinking, I myself ran over.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Uncollected Poems
translated from the German by Stephen Mitchell

{ Poetry Wednesday }


Kris Livovich said...

absolutely beautiful. And I am assuming that is you smiling in the picture. A lovely picture.

amber said...

Yes, it's me in the photo with my beloved.

Speaking of my beloved, he read this post this evening and had a different interpretation of the poem.

I've always thought that Rilke was writing about the way in which the love for a specific person gives you a (however fleeting) love for humanity, life, etc ("world"). You see a glimpse of that expansive love in your particular experience of love, and this expansive love is what the writer experiences in the last stanza when "I myself ran over".

Charles, on the other hand, thought that that Rilke was writing about the question of whether or not to love; when one encounters a person and must decide whether to engage further. Thus, in the last stanza, the writer did involve himself, but found it was too much.

Beth said...

Lovely poem. I have just rediscovered Rilke's poetry, though most of it has been his Book of Hours. After reading this selection, I will need to expand my collection.