Poem of the Day: Sonnet 22 by Rainer Maria Rilke

“All that is hastening will soon be gone.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

I am an admirer of the transcendent poetry of the Austrian-German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). Rilke is known for his lyrical and deeply spiritual poems that speak to the trials and travails of being human. Among his most famous works is The Sonnets to Orpheus, a cycle of 55 sonnets written in 1922, the same year Rilke finished his other magnum opus, The Duino Elegies. Rilke wrote the Song of Orpheus over an intense period of three weeks, experiencing what he described as a “savage creative storm”. The poems were inspired by the news of the death of Wera Ouckama Knoop, a playmate of Rilke’s daughter Ruth, and he dedicated them as a memorial to her memory.

Here is Sonnet #22 from Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus (my translation)

We are the transient ones.
who take the march of time
as but the least of things
in what remains.

All that is hastening
will soon be gone;
only that which is for
our hallowing lives on.

So, do not throw your souls
to test the speed of your flight
or the height of your power.

For all things will come to rest:
The darkness and the light,
The book and the flower.

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