Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Blogmas: Day 21 Favorite Winter Poem or Picture

I’ll be honest I have never read a Christmas poem that didn’t turn my stomach.  Almost without exception, Christmas poems harken back to a sweeter, more holy, bygone era that according to my own extensive historical research (Wikipedia) never existed.  Suck it, Clement Clark More: we all know you’ve been playing fast and loose with the facts!—kerchief my ass!

My distaste for Christmas verse aside, there are a wealth of wintery poems that should get more love at this time of year.  This poem from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus, is a personal favorite and an underrated gem.  The Orpheus poems were inspired by the death of one of Rilke’s daughter’s friends and focus on love, loss, faith, and transformation.  Having lost someone very dear to me a few weeks ago, Rilke’s words in the follow sonnet have provided me a measure of comfort. 

Read on and enjoy.

The Sonnets To Orpheus: Book 2: XIII
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it all will your heart survive.

Be forever dead in Eurydice-more gladly arise
into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.

Be-and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb
creatures in the world's full reserve, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.

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