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Rilke: The Sonnets to Orpheus XXI

April 29, 2010

Spring has returned. The earth resembles

a little girl who has memorised

many poems …. For all the trouble

of her long learning, she wins the prize.

Her teacher was strict. We loved the white

in the old man’s beard and shaggy eyebrows.

Now, whatever we ask about

the blue and green, she knows, she knows!

Earth, overjoyed to be out on vacation,

play with the children. We long to catch up,

jubilant earth. The happiest will win.

What her teacher taught her, the numberless Things,

and what lies hidden in stem and in deep

difficult root, she sings, she sings!

Translated by Stephen Mitchell.

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