Anticipating the Passion (from The Life of the Virgin Mary)

by Rainer Maria Rilke

English version by Annemarie S. Kidder
Original Language German

If you had really wanted to be strong,
you would not have come from a woman's womb.
For messiahs are quarried from mountains
where the sturdy and strong comes from stone.

Are you not sorry to have despoiled your land
by such limitations? I am weak, don't you see;
I only had streams of milk or tears to offer,
and you were ever so much more than me.

So much ado when your birth to me was announced.
You could have been born fierce and wild from the start.
If you only needed tigers to tear you to pieces,
why did I learn gentleness as an art

by which I wove for you a soft, pure gown
without even the slightest seam
for comfort--: that's how my life has been,
which you now have turned upside down.

-- from Pictures of God: Rilke's Religious Poetry, Including 'The Life of the Virgin Mary', by Rainer Maria Rilke / Translated by Annemarie S. Kidder

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Anticipating the Passion