October 11, 2011

Portrait of My Father as a Young Man

In the eyes, dream. The brow bearing witness
to something far off. About the mouth,
abundant youth, an unsmiling seductiveness.
And across the ornamental braiding
of the slender, elite uniform,
the saber's hilt and both hands
waiting quietly, driven toward nothing.
Now they are barely visible, as if they,
reaching for the Distant, were the first to disappear.
All else is veiled in its own mystery,
dissolved in its own depths.

You swiftly fading daguerreotype
in my more slowly fading hands.

New Poems


  1. The images that we use to accompany the daily Rilke text generally come from artists who had some relation to the great poet to whom this blog is dedicated, giants like Pasternak, Rodin, Cezanne, Van Gogh and others, like Chagall, for whom the connection is perhaps only tangential but quite strongly felt by us. You can read about them by clicking on “About the Images…” at the top right.

    This work of scavenging the web for images has by and large fallen to Ruth (I normally just type in the text). I congratulate and thank her for how fabulously enriched the readings are by the images she offers up for them. Today, I have injected a wee bit of myself into the post by using a photo of my father as a young man, holding his son Lorenzo. I trust you will indulge me this minor bout of personal protagonism on my part, for, you see, today is my 55th birthday and I have the pleasure of being back home in the States for a few days sharing the occasion with my parents, at the request of my father, who has not been well of late, but is soldiering on with his brow bearing witness still, a bit to the here and now and a growing bit to something far off. This is a photo I love and have shared before on my blog, an as yet unfaded ‘daguerreotype’ that still illumines a camera obscura of my memory.

  2. I'm so glad you shared a glimpse into your celebrations today, Lorenzo. My heart wells up with your backstory, especially because today's reading, like every day's reading here, just happened to be the given text for October 11 in the book from which we gather them: A Year with Rilke. Thanks for the nice things you said about my image pairings here, but I'm thinking that there isn't a better pairing in this whole year of Rilke readings than this photo of you on your dad's lap, while you visit him, on your birthday.

  3. lorenzo - a joyous fifty fifth birthday to you. made more joyous no doubt by the company you'll keep today. you're a gift!! steven

  4. What joy! A moment enjoyed forever with this image. Proof of "youth" (for you both :) and I have to confess, I thought this was written by Lorenzo it fits so perfectly with the image. When I look at images of my parents when they were young, I find myself really gazing at them and thinking "Is this possible?" Ha! Hard to imagine my kids will do the same to my images when they dig them out of my storage box.

  5. I suspected as much when I saw the picture...beautiful pairing and thanks so much for putting them together. oh...and Happy Birthday!! '56 was a very good year! :-)

  6. Lorenzo, wishing you a wonderful celebration today! Happy Birthday!

    I love that your photo was included with today's reading.

  7. Oh, you guys look so much alike in that photo. Thanks for sharing both the photo and the lovely sentiments and back story. I so appreciate your personal touch today.

    Happy birthday, Lorenzo, and enjoy the time together with your dad.

    All the best,

    Fran in crispy, breezy Southern Alberta, Canada

  8. a perfect marriage, lorenzo, this piece and this photograph. i was compelled to come behind the curtain to learn who this is/was. the photo itself stands alone.

    happy birthday and so much more.


  9. Thanks to each and every one of you for your comments and good wishes. I am travelling at present, in search of the Fall foliage in upstate NY, and have very limited access to the web right now. Ciao.

  10. Exquisite poem, Lorenzo! Are you translating the Rilke yourself? I thought I saw the names of several translators-- could you e-mail info to me at jenneandrews2010@gmail.com ? xxxxj

  11. Hi Jenné, perhaps Lorenzo will email you as well, but I want to leave a comment response here, in case you come back and check. The translators for this wonderful poem, and all the poems each day on the blog, are translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. We gather them from the book that is on the sidebar. Lorenzo types up the day's reading, and I pair images with them. It's a wonderful book of daily readings, and we hope you'll purchase one at your local bookstore or somewhere.

    Thanks, Jenné, for reading, and for your responses in poems, which are so very rich. There seems to be no end to the inspiration we receive from this man's interior explorations!


"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!