Mar 03 2010

Rainer Maria Rilke – Dove that ventured outside

Published by at 9:51 am under Poetry

Dove that ventured outside
by Rainer Maria Rilke

English version by Stephen Mitchell

(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


/ Photo by quinet /

The great German poet Rilke has reminds us to engage in the wondrous and terrible adventure of our lives. The dove “knows what serenity is, for she has felt her wings / pass through all distance and fear.”

I love the line:

only the won-back heart      can ever be satisfied

And that closing verse…

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.

Wonderful!

I hear that line chanting itself through my mind…

Being arches itself      over the vast abyss.
Being arches itself      over the vast abyss…

Have a beautiful day!

Rainer Maria Rilke, Rainer Maria Rilke poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Rainer Maria Rilke

Germany (1875 – 1926) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke

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8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Rainer Maria Rilke – Dove that ventured outside”

  1. Kathy Stewarton 03 Mar 2010 at 11:15 am

    Dear Ivan, this is such an uplifting and deepening poem – I love Stephen Mitchell’s translation. In my personal journey, I’ve learned from both life and death, the ying and yang of this existence, and this poem moves me beyond both! Thank you for all you do!

  2. sparrowon 03 Mar 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Ian thanks for Poetry Chaikhana . . .

    When i read this one by Rilke was hoping you would comment on the form of the poem.

    While going through a Kundalini Awakening this form came to me and have since found a couple of poems by Rilke that uses it. Did Rilke ever speak of this form of writing poems? Or do you know of other sacred poets that have tried to express sacred geometry through the form of poetry?

    For me this form shows the energetic of the Yin/Yang symbol. The poem can be read as one whole poem both top to bottom and bottom to top, or can be read right top to right bottom (yin), left top to left bottom (yang) , right bottom to right top, left bottom to left top. It can also be read. Then if one imagines the poem to be rolled then it can be read top to bottom and bottom to top with yang leading yin. That would make eight different poems, and for me the ninth poem would be the overall dynamic energy of the whole and the parts in unity.

    Thank you
    sparrow

  3. Rena Navonon 04 Mar 2010 at 8:48 am

    In the shadow of this great poet, I dare this response:

    Bending like a willing bow,
    I will arrow into the range of a rare sparrow
    whir through Baudelaire’s superior air
    feathers firm as they travel near my taut inner ear
    chin dropped to allow my tongue to reach for new tastes from purples melting to pinks dispelling the last colors of the compelling, common skies

    White skies will take on the sober stuff of a new confident mind
    before they leave my body limp from
    my last millennium’s trip,
    fulfilled
    *

    No poet can do what Rilke can–even inspire minor poets.
    I hope you will show us more of his poems, Ivan, your page a harbor for an unlikely community of a future dream.

  4. Evangeline Fontenoton 04 Mar 2010 at 10:54 am

    Hello Ivan–

    Thank you for my first poem from you. I love when poets stalk me. This is the third time Rilke has come to me this week. “The weight of where it has been,” indeed. All best wishes to you in this generous offering you’ve undertaken.

    Yours–
    Evangeline

  5. Ericon 15 Mar 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Thank you for posting this poem. I may blog about it, myself, in the next few days. If I do, I’ll be sure to link to you.

    Though I’ve strayed from poetry for several years now, Rilke has won back my heart.

  6. […] Dove That Ventured Outside […]

  7. Aparna Sonamon 10 Dec 2015 at 2:58 am

    I read it back then,
    And I read it now

    And watch my life become heavier by the weight of the time that has passed.

  8. John Hatfieldon 15 Aug 2016 at 11:34 am

    Is anyone familiar with the translation of this poem from the German by Robert Lowell.
    Lowell icludes a complete stanza of lines of his own, that are not, of course in the actual poem. He did this on the grounds that a translation is the equivalent of writing the poem that the poet wrote in his own language : i.e., what might have been written in English, had Rilke written in English.
    JH August 2016

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