Mission by Yehuda Amichai

Tell them it’s not just me,
Others too.
It happened,
And I couldn’t change a thing.

Repeat the words again,
Translate them into two or three languages
And look into their eyes, see how understanding
Rises in them. And how it dies like smoke.
And in the end, call in another voice,
A voice that folds into your heart.
Not for them anymore. See
They start their supper. Don’t sup with them.
Come back to me.

translated by Benjamin & Barbara Harshav

And After That The Rain by Yehuda Amichai

And after all that–the rain.
When we learned to read the book of lingering
And the book of parting,
When our hair learned all the winds
And our sweet free hours
Are trained to run all around
In the ring of time.

After all that–the rain.
A big salty sea
Comes to us, stammering
Sweet and heavy drops.

And after all that–the rain.
See, we too
Pour down
To the one who receives us and doesn’t remember,
the spring earth.

translated by Benjamin & Barbara Harshav

The Swan by Rainer Maria Rilke

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is a letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan when he nervously lets himself down

into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each minute more fully grown,
more like a king, composed, farther and farther on.

translated by Robert Bly

I Find You by Rainer Maria Rilke

I had you in all these things of the world,
that I love calmly, like a brother;
in things no one cares for you brood like a seed;
and to powerful things you give an immense power.

Strength plays such a marvelous game–
it moves through the things of the world like a servant,
groping out in roots, tapering in trunks,
and in the treetops like a rising from the dead.

translated by Robert Bly

Sometimes a man by Rainer Maria Rilke

Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.

And another man, who remains inside his own house,
dies there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.

translated by Robert Bly

Sonnet XIV from The Sonnets To Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke

We are involved with flower, leaf, and fruit.
They speak not just the language of one year.
From darkness a bright phenomenon appears
and still reflects, perhaps, the jealous glint

of the dead, who fill the earth. How can we know
what part they play within the ancient cycle?
Long since, it has been their job to make the soil
vigorous with the force of their free marrow.

But have they done it willingly? we ask. . .
Does this fruit, formed by heavy slaves, push up
like a clenched fist, to threaten us, their masters?

Or in fact are they the masters, as they sleep
beside the roots and grant us, from their riches,
this hybrid Thing of speechless strength and kisses?

translated by Stephen Mitchell

Just As The Winged Energy Of Delight by Rainer Maria Rilke

Just as the winged energy of delight
carried you over many chasms early on,
now raise the daringly imagined arch
holding up the astonishing bridges.

Miracle doesn’t lie only in the amazing
living through and defeat of danger;
miracles become miracles in the clear
achievement that is earned.

To work with things is not hubris
when building the association beyond words;
denser and denser the pattern becomes–
being carried along is not enough.

Take your well-disciplined strengths
and stretch them between two
opposing poles. Because inside human beings
is where God learns.

translated by Robert Bly