Saturday, October 25, 2008

Autumnally turned

A couple of days ago I wrote an entry in response to a tag. And then there was some malfunction with the blog, and it completely disappeared. I don't feel inclined to recreate it. Instead, I'm offering a poem, because I'm currently undergoing a Rilke revival. Back when I was doing the MFA, Rilke was all the rage. So I bought books of Rilke, and, while I liked them well enough, they seemed heavy and sometimes hard to understand. Now I think I just wasn't ready for Rilke when I was 23. In fact, I ended up selling some of the books, but I kept two: Letters to a Young Poet, a book of prose that has one of my favorite lines in the world, the admonishment to "live the questions," and also a selection of poems edited by Stephen Mitchell. I've been dipping into the poems here and there lately, and finding them all wonderful. Here's one I read today, entitled, appropriate for the season, "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 on the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.


I love the way the poem moves from a pastoral scene, with the wind on the meadows, and then moves to the flaneur, wandering, restless, among fallen leaves.

8 comments:

joanna said...

I'm sitting here, watching the wind knock the leaves off of the trees. I feel like I'm in the poem. I remember reading Rilke so long ago and being so moved by them.

power of love.kr said...

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walk2write said...

It reminds me of my own season change--middle-age reflections. I see here words playing with tense/tension constructed by time itself. There is the anxiety of running out of time, seeing the seasons change with more rapidity, and not finding fulfillment, companionship, or security as one gets closer to death.

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Melanie said...

You know I bought and read books of Rilke poems because of you. Not that I understood them. I still have them. Perhaps I need to try them again. Like you, I don't think I was ready at 23 (or probably 33) for Rilke. Thanks.

I love this blog. Why didn't I notice the link on your FB page before?

Melanie

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