Praise the world to the Angel, not what's unsayable.
You can't impress him with lofty emotions; in the cosmos
that shapes his feelings; you're a mere novice. Therefore show him
some simple object, formed from generation to generation
until it's truly our own.
--Rilke, from "The Ninth Elegy"
Looking westward through the porch screen,
White light from the full moon shivers
On snow crust, on a glaze over fields.
The silvered-seconds, the whited minutes,
The wind-chimes euphony, the wavy-warped drifts,
The attempt to capture that luring call in the rising moon
Only to be jostled back beyond repeal....
Maybe it is simply like tipping the head back,
Eyes rising, tracing the pale-pearl flush over head,
Untouched, skeletal, almost fibrous in its network
Across the sky of dark-blue drape, a mysterious beauty
That promises what with grace we must become:
Marginal angels, immortal transients, fresh tracing
Of that lost beginning grafted to the sweetest words.
Easter Morning, Luna Pier,
Two Men Fishing In A Boat
And over them a gray calm,
Fog folded fatly over the water,
A hundred yards or so of visibility.
Their bait stalks along the bottom,
Strange how the mind
On a morning like this
Looks for tone and terminology,
A sad attempt to understand God’s
Timelessness giving forth Time.
Someone at the pier’s edge faces east,
Listening to the water
Slopping the stones below;
An alien conscience or another
Phantom of loss and gain.
On the boat, a match spurts;
A finger held too near the flame
Brings that old curse of pain
Cleaving the fog-bound air,
Patience hardened to a pittance.
In the hover of a white bird,
The light begins to shape and feather.
A respite from fear some poet might think.
But the wait’s begun again, the water
Rounding the stones in penitence.
Years pass, and I remember still
A girl with one leg draped over a balcony rail.
I think of how it has been;
I think of how it will go on:
Steadfast evening skies,
Spacious the first evening star
Riding radiant and pure,
The flame points alternating,
A part of infinitesimal Time
Taking the shape of all I know:
A voicelessness, a leg draped, a name mouthed,
An old woman sweeping her stretch of sidewalk . . . .