You, you only exist

You, you only, exist.
We pass away, till at last,
our passing is so immense
that you arise: beautiful moment,
in all your suddenness,
arising in love, or enchanted
in the contraction of work.

To you I belong, however time may
wear me away. From you to you
I go commanded. In between
the garland is hanging in chance; but if you
take it up and up and up: look:
all becomes festival!


Rainer M. Rilke
Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Note: Does anyone know the title of the German original ? Stephen Mitchell is a wonderful interpreter, but he makes it hard to translate back to the original…

About Michaela

I am a wanderer and a wonderer, like you are. I love our journey and to walk in the company of friends – to learn, experience, share, laugh, cry and above all I simply love this marvelous, magical, mysterious life. I have no plan (cannot believe I am saying this) and my only intention is to be truthful to myself and others.
This entry was posted in Books & Poetry, Rilke's Reality and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to You, you only exist

  1. Dreamfable says:

    Rilke… Totally forgot about him.

  2. Michaela says:

    Yes, I am discovering Rilke again. Really, if you can, read it in the original German. I am finding it nearly impossible to translate Rilke into mono-syllabic English. Stephen Mitchell gets close – but I believe he does not even speak German, he adapts..

    Try this site:

  3. Dreamfable says:

    My German is not good enough, I am afraid.
    I understand a lot of the words, because it’s a bit like dutch. Find it almost impossible to connect with it on a deeper level however..

  4. fatima says:

    “Stephen Mitchell gets close – but I believe he does not even speak German, he adapts..”

    The same apparently with Coleman Barks. Just saying.

    I see that I have a new openness to the work of Coleman Barks although I still have great appreciation of Nicholson in his very English and scholarly approach to exact translation of original texts. First I had the openness to Barks then found out that he is student of Bawa Muhyideen, the late Qutb. Pleased me that sequence of events.

    This reminds me that there is, apparently, a tradition in the transmission of the teachings of the great Sufi’s, scholars teaching stories, in the Islamic tradition. While there is, to dot and comma, adherence to not changing a letter of Quran and hadith, commentary is commentary, and the Sheikhs and teachers often and acceptably adapt commentary to suit the needs of time and place.

    Here is something from Ibn Arabi ks, “What the seeker needs.”

    “What is essential for you is to be heedful at all times, to be attentive to what comes into your mind and heart. Think about and analyze these feelings.”

    The translation/adaption (maybe even the soup of the soup of the rabbit of Nasruddin hoja) goes on to say,

    “Try to control them. Beware of the wishes of your ego, settle your accounts with it.”

    Hmmmm. What does THAT mean? Am I aware that I have no way of knowing what he actually said as I read and does it matter? Its all a story. And, that would be true, I think, even if I was reading it in his original words. There is nothing wrong with that but that is the truth of it. It’s just a story but there is Truth in stories….so…….

  5. Michaela says:

    Oh, really ? I was not aware regarding Coleman Barks…

    I am a little bit more relaxed – I rather have a conscious person adapt a translation, as opposed to a scholar just translating, if you know what I mean.

    I don’t know…I understand the Ibn Arabi ks…but the translation does not make sense ??

    Ah, 🙂

    Give me a nice quote or something to post, dear Ms F …

  6. Dreamfable says:

    Difficult choice. The scholarly approach or the conscious approach.

    Best for me is a scholarly translation with a conscious explanation. 🙂

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