Dove that ventured outside

by Rainer Maria Rilke

English version by Stephen Mitchell
Original Language German

(To Erika, for the festival of praise)

Dove that ventured outside,     flying far from the dovecote:
housed and protected again,     one with the day, the night,
knows what serenity is,     for she has felt her wings
pass through all distance and fear     in the course of her wanderings.

The doves that remained at home,     never exposed to loss,
innocent and secure,     cannot know tenderness;
only the won-back heart     can ever be satisfied: free,
through all it has given up,     to rejoice in its mastery.

Being arches itself     over the vast abyss.
Ah the ball that we dared,     that we hurled into infinite space,
doesn't it fill our hands     differently with its return:
heavier by the weight     of where it has been.

-- from Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

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Dove that ventured