The Sonnets To Orpheus: Book 2: Xiii (Be Ahead of All Parting) by Rainer Maria Rilke


Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it all will your heart survive.

Be forever dead in Eurydice-more gladly arise
into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.

Be-and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb
creatures in the world's full reserve, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.

Translated by Stephen Mitchell 

To learn more about Rainer Maria Rilke, visit his page on the Poetry Foudation’s website by clicking here.

This poem (which is also known as “The Sonnets To Orpheus: Book 2: Xiii”) comes from The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke: Bilingual Edition (English and German Edition).

Click here to purchase.

Click on the printer icon to print this page

If you live in the greater Portland area and are expecting, click here to visit Olivia’s doula page.

Lit from the Basement is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to (this means as Amazon associates, we earn from qualifying purchases).