I’ve always felt like there are too many things going on in the world, too many unseen connections and anticipatory feelings flying around. A lot of these sensations are hard to put into words, which is why I’ve always loved Rilke so much. His poems always tend to say the things I don’t know how to say. “You Who Never Arrived” has gradually worked its way up my favorite poems list over the years, to the point where I’m not pretty sure that I want those last three lines on my eventual tombstone (with or without the “Who knows?” is still tbd).
You Who Never Arrived by Rainer Maria Rilke
You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.
You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house– , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…