Rilke during WWI, in Austrian military uniform
photo found here
Once I was as yielding as early wheat,
but it pleased you, raging one,
to ignite the heart I offered you.
Now, like a lion's, it is on fire.
What sort of mouth did you allot me,
back then when I arrived?
It was like a wound, which now is bleeding
one catastrophe after another.
Daily I resound with fresh horrors
that you, insatiable one, contrive,
and they do not destroy my mouth.
Even you lack the power to silence it now,
when those whom my people have crushed and scattered are finally lost.
Amidst the rubble, I would want
to keep on hearing the voice that has been mine,
from the beginning a howl.