Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On Hearing of a Death

(This is a poem I'd thought about reading at the service. What I read will be up soon. For now, I am figuring out the formatting.) 

On Hearing of a Death

We lack all knowledge of this parting. Death 
does not deal with us. We have no reason
to show death admiration, love or hate; 
his mask of feigned tragic lament gives us

a false impression. The world's stage is still
filled with roles which we play. While we worry
that our performance may not please, 
death also performs, although to no applause. 

But as you left us, there broke upon this stage
a glimpse of reality, shown through the slight
opening through which you disappeared: green, 
evergreen, bathed in sunlight, actual woods. 

We keep on playing, anxious, our difficult roles
declaiming, with matching gestures 
as required. But your presence so suddenly 
removed from our midst and from our play, at times 

overcomes us like a sense of that other 
reality: yours, that we are so overwhelmed
and play our actual lives instead of the performance, 
forgetting altogether the applause. 

-Rainer Maria Rilke (trans. Albert Ernest Flemming) 

1 comment:

Jerry A. said...

Oh my God, Max.

I'd never seen this poem before, but...