You Who Never Arrived
by Rainer Maria Rilke
You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of the next
moment. All the immense
images in me–the far-off, deeply felt landscape,
cities, towers, and bridges, and un-
suspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.
You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing, An open window
in a country house–, and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me. Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and startled, gave back
my too-sudden image. Who knows? perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…
© by Christine O’Brien
“An open window in a country house,
and you almost stepped out pensive to meet me.”
You, who awoke with sleep in your eyes
and brushed away the dream of me.
Whose new dawn’s light
caused me to vanish like some unborn ghost.
Whose tossings and turnings
restless night callings
of my yet unnamed self
while my whisper tickled your
Whose sweet scent was blown
through the window of your dreams
and you shuddered
as my soft footfalls in the night
sought to awaken you
to my unformed body
lying beside you
praying that daylight wouldn’t discharge
us from tactile knowing.
Does Rilke’s poem inspire something in you? If so, choose one line of his poem as a prompt for your own poem imitating his style. Let the Rilke in you express itself.
Note: I recommend reading Rilke’s poem aloud. There is something in the dreamy rhythm that is captivating.