The Sonnets To Orpheus: Book 2: VI

Rose, you majesty-once, to the ancients, you were
just a calyx with the simplest of rims.
But for us, you are the full, the numberless flower,
the inexhaustible countenance.

In your wealth you seem to be wearing gown upon gown
upon a body of nothing but light;
yet each seperate petal is at the same time the negation
of all clothing and the refusal of it.

Your fragrance has been calling its sweetest names
in our direction, for hundreds of years;
suddenly it hangs in the air like fame.

Even so, we have never known what to call it; we guess...
And memory is filled with it unawares
which we prayed for from hours that belong to us.

Translated by Stephen Mitchell

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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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"The Sonnets To Orpheus: Book 2: VI" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 24 Feb. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/29731/the-sonnets-to-orpheus:-book-2:-vi>.

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