Portrait of my Father as a Young Man

In the eyes: dream. The brow as if it could feel
something far off. Around the lips, a great
freshness--seductive, though there is no smile.
Under the rows of ornamental braid
on the slim Imperial officer's uniform:
the saber's basket-hilt. Both hands stay
folded upon it, going nowhere, calm
and now almost invisible, as if they
were the first to grasp the distance and dissolve.
And all the rest so curtained within itself,
so cloudy, that I cannot understand
this figure as it fades into the background--.

Oh quickly disappearing photograph
in my more slowly disappearing hand.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Rainer Maria Rilke

René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke — better known as Rainer Maria Rilke — was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, "widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets", writing in both verse and highly lyrical prose. more…

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"Portrait of my Father as a Young Man" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 12 Jul 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/29703/portrait-of-my-father-as-a-young-man>.

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