Tribute to Rilke
© by Christine O’Brien
The rose’s petals teach us how to see
through a multitude of eyelids, says he.
Beneath the lids, “oh pure contradiction,
joy of being.” Jubilation.
“There are no lakes until eternity,”
as we stumble forward into infinity.
“To fall from the mastered emotion” is the way
though we seek rest through the weary day.
His tribute to Holderlin, poet of light,
movement “like the moon…and underneath bright…”
Rilke invades soul countries to retrieve
pure essence of truth, no time to deceive.
The questing seeker that he was, tense with
desire to know the self and crack the myth
which imprisons so many, the unwary
in such depths plummeted, a poet’s quarry.
Extracting from despair as well as from glory
not to be “shut out” from the star’s story.
For we are part of something grander
though we live small lives of misplaced wonder.
Employing the dross of a childhood curtailed
grew a man of soul, the sensitive prevailed.
Opening, then, my own heart to deep sight;
his poetry traverses both depth and height.
“Even here, though, something can bloom”
Lifts the weary from unwarranted gloom
“almost cheerfully with a lightness”
his poetry a beacon towards brightness.
This poem, a tribute to Rainer Maria Rilke, is conversational with some of Rilke’s poetry.
Find a poem that you love and engage in conversation with it, incorporating a line or two into your own poem. Allow the poet’s lines to lead you into the poem’s
theme and then follow your own train of thought.
Note: In the poem above, Rilke’s lines are italicized and in purple.