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selected Rilke

Every Day You Play
Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold tightly
as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.

You are like nobody since I love you
Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.
Who writes your name in letters of smoke
   among the stars of the south?
Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.

Suddenly the wind howls and bangs at my shut window.
The sky is a net crammed with shadowy fish.
Here all the winds let go sooner or later, all of them.
The rain takes off her clothes.

The birds go by, fleeing.
The wind. The wind.
I can contend only against the power of men.
The storm whirls dark leaves
and turns loose all the boats that were moored
   last night to the sky.

You are here. Oh, you you do not run away.
You will answer me to the last cry.
Cling to me as though you were frightened.
Even so, at one time a strange shadow
   ran through your eyes.

Now, now too, little one, you bring me honeysuckle,
and even your breasts smell of it.
While the sad wind goes slaughtering butterflies
I love you, and my happiness
   bites the plum of your mouth.

How you must have suffered getting accustomed to me,
my savage, solitary soul, my name
   that sends them all running.
So many times we have seen the morning star burn,
   kissing our eyes,
and over our heads the gray light unwind in turning fans.

My words rained over you, stroking you,
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl
   of your body.
I go so far as to think that you own the universe.
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains,
   bluebells, dark hazels, and rusic baskets of kisses.
I want to do with you
   what spring does with the cherry trees.

- Pablo Neruda

I didn't know what to say, my mouth
could not speak,
my eyes could not see
and something ignighted in my soul,
feveror unremembered wings
and I went my own way,
deciphering that burning fire
and I wrote the first bare line,
bare without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of one who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened and open.

- Pablo Neruda
(translated by David Whyte)


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