You Who Never Arrived
Rainer Marie Rilke
You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.
You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house– , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…
I just finished watching the 1994 film, Only You. In the film starring a young Robert Downey Jr. and a wide-eyed Marisa Tomei, the two shared a moment on the streets of Rome, reciting the lines to this poem by Czech writer Rainier Maria Rilke. Afterwards, I had to look it up. It talks about this “Beloved” (note the capital letter at the beginning, suggesting it is a proper noun) that the first person always misses by a second, and was “lost from the start”. The beauty and tragedy in a fleeting moment is the main theme here. Overlooking the romantic aspect, the endless transitory phases and missed opportunities in this poem, are constantly reflected in life. Perhaps life is the “Beloved”, always one step ahead of us, waiting for us to follow but never meeting us at where we want it to be.
On a side note, I’ve decided to dedicate Tuesdays to sharing art in the form of music, poetry, illustrations, or other forms, on my blog.