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Authors: Rainer Maria Rilke

Ahead of All Parting

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1995 Modern Library Edition

Translation copyright © 1995 by Stephen Mitchell

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

M
ODERN
L
IBRARY
and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Many of these translations were first published in
The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke
, Random House, 1982;
The Notebooks of Make Laurids Brigge
, Random House, 1983; and
The Sonnets to Orpheus
, Simon & Schuster, 1985.

Other translations first appeared in the following periodicals:
American Poetry Review, 89¢, Grand Street, Ironwood, Kenyon Review, New York Review of Books, Occident, Paris Review, Talisman, The Ten Directions, The Threepenny Review
, and
Zero.

Twenty-seven translations were published in
Rainer Maria Rilke/Last Poems
, Okeanos Press, 1989, in an edition of 200 copies.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to reprint previously published material: Bechtle Verlag (Munich): Excerpts from Rainer Maria Rilke’s
Briefwechsel mit Benvenuta
, edited by Magda von Hattingberg.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Rilke, Rainer Maria, 1875–1926.
 [Selections. English & German. 1995]
Ahead of all parting: the selected poetry and prose of Rainer Maria Rilke/edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell.
p. cm.
English and German.
ISBN 0-679-60161-9 (alk. paper)
eBook ISBN: 978-0-8041-5357-7
1. Rilke, Rainer Maria, 1875-1926—Translations into English.
I. Mitchell, Stephen, 1943–  . II. Title.
PT2635.I65A2525  1995
831′.912—dc20     94-43917

Modern Library website address:
www.modernlibrary.com

v3.1

To
Robert Aitken, R
ō
shi

This symbol, *, indicates a space between sections of
a poem whenever such spaces are lost in pagination.

Contents
PART 1
Selected Poems
FROM
The Book of Hours
 (1905)

Ich lebe mein Leben in wachsenden Ringen,

die sich über die Dinge ziehn.

Ich werde den letzten vielleicht nicht vollbringen,

aber versuchen will ich ihn.

Ich kreise um Gott, um den uralten Turm,

und ich kreise jahrtausendelang;

und ich weiß noch nicht: bin ich ein Falke, ein Sturm

oder ein großer Gesang.

[I live my life in widening rings]

I live my life in widening rings

which spread over earth and sky.

I may not ever complete the last one,

but that is what I will try.

I circle around God, the primordial tower,

and I circle ten thousand years long;

and I still don’t know if I’m a falcon, a storm,

or an unfinished song.

Ich bin, du Ängstlicher. Hörst du mich nicht

mit allen meinen Sinnen an dir branden?

Meine Gefühle, welche Flügel fanden,

umkreisen weiß dein Angesicht.

Siehst du nicht meine Seele, wie sie dicht

vor dir in einem Kleid aus Stille steht?

Reift nicht mein mailiches Gebet

an deinem Blicke wie an einem Baum?

Wenn du der Träumer bist, bin ich dein Traum.

Doch wenn du wachen willst, bin ich dein Wille

und werde mächtig aller Herrlichkeit

und ründe mich wie eine Sternenstille

über der wunderlichen Stadt der Zeit.

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