Three translations of:
By Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926)
YOU wait, with memories drifting,
For the something that made life blessed,
The mighty, the rare, the uplifting,
The awaking of stones, the rifting
That opened deeps unguessed.
The books in your shelves are staring
Golden and brown, as you muse
On the lands you crossed in your faring,
On pictures, on visions unsparing
Of women you had to lose.
All at once it comes back: now you know!
Trembling you rise, all aware
Of a year once long ago
With its grandeur and fear and prayer.
--Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans. A Harvest of German Verse. 1916.
And you wait, keep waiting for that one thing
which would infinitely enrich your life:
the powerful, uniquely uncommon,
the awakening of dormant stones,
depths that would reveal you to yourself.
In the dusk you notice the book shelves
with their volumes in gold and in brown;
and you think of far lands you journeyed,
of pictures and of shimmering gowns
worn by women you conquered and lost.
And it comes to you all of a sudden:
That was it! And you arise, for you are
aware of a year in your distant past
with its fears and events and prayers.
--translated by Albert Ernest Flemming
And you wait, expecting that one thing
that your life endlessly shall multiply;
that one powerful, immense thing,
the awakening of stones,
depths, coming back to you.
Volumes of gold and brown emerge
as dawn out of the bookshelves;
and you reflect upon lands traveled through,
on images, on the garments
of women lost once again.
And then suddenly you realize: that was it.
You rise up and before you stands
the fear and shape and prayer
of a year gone by.
--translated by Cliff Crego