You, the loved one lost
in advance, you who never arrived,
I don’t even know what sounds you like best.
No longer, when the future crests toward the present,
so I try to discern you. All the great
images in me—the landscape widening far off,
cities and towers and bridges and un-
suspected turns in the path
and the forcefulness of those lands
once intertwined with gods:
they all mount up in me to signify
you, forever not here.
You are the gardens.
With such hope
I saw them. An open window
in the country house–, and you almost
stepped out pensively to meet me. I found streets, —
you had just walked down them,
and sometimes the mirrors in the merchants’ shops
were still drunk with you and with a start
reflected my too-sudden image. –Who knows
if the same birdsong did not ring through both of us
yesterday, each of us alone, at evening?
“Paris, Winter 1913-14.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, (Untitled), The Poetry of Rilke, trans. and ed. Edward Snow, New York: North Point Press (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), 2009: 523.