Saturday, October 08, 2005

Duke Altum's Poem of the Week #10

This week's poem comes from an all-time master of the craft, Rainer Maria Rilke. I chose it not only because it seems to be appropriate for the season, but also because, though I can't claim to fully grasp (as with most of Rilke's deep, profound poetry) its meaning, I really like the mood of the thing -- the potent mix of wistfulness and expectation... appreciation for beauties found and mourning for beauties lost. The miracle of this poem is that it somehow manages to capture in words the gift and the pain of autumn -- that final fireburst of color before the world slips into the gray pall of winter. And of course, it seems to say something profound about our lives too, although it's beyond me to describe exactly what that is. I just sense it at the level of the heart (not the head) when I read the words of the poem.


Autumn Day

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.

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