April 25, 2011

It Was As Though a Girl Came Forth

Still Life with Plaster Statuette,
a Rose and Two Novels

It was as though a girl came forth
from the marriage of song and lyre,
shining like springtime.
She became inseparable from my own hearing.

She slept in me. Everything was in her sleep:
the trees I loved, the distances
that had opened, the meadows—
all that had ever moved me.

She slept the world. Singing god, how
have you fashioned her, that she does not long
to have once been awake? See: she took form and slept.

Where is her death? Will you discover
the answer before your song is spent?
If I forget her, will she disappear?

Sonnets to Orpheus I, 2


  1. wow - i have no idea how he does this..the images soak me into a picture, paint emotions. he had me from "she slept in me...everything was in her sleep" this is just amazing

  2. Oh how beautiful, that she is awake in him. And ever waking, though asleep.

  3. This is one of my favorite sonnets, where Orpheus is named the "singing god" and Eurydice -- his just-married, forever-vanished bride -- sets up the liminal space of all poetry. A Thing, a Thou, embraced, known, but fleetingly, whose very existence depends upon disappearance: such enactments happen with every next poem, asking,

    Where is her death? Will you discover
    the answer before your song is spent?
    If I forget her, will she disappear?

    The figure is Eurydice and its also Vera Koop, the 19-year old dancer who died (of leukemia I think, some blood disorder, the same thing that would kill Rilke ia few years after this poem -- maybe he already knew ...), is flower and fountain, childhood ball and a fawn paused at the forest's edge. Is World, reconnoitered and ravished and surrendered then lost through the word. The Sonnets are a breviary of small human joys where the scattered song of Orepheus Rilke could still find. Wonderful ... - Brendan

  4. If I forget, will disappear?

  5. the entire image of such longing and beauty through her sleep is overwhelming.
    i love how he asks questions at the end of a thought of which the answers are obvious


"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Go ahead, bloom recklessly!