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Autumn -- Rainer Maria Rilke

Guest poem sent in by Sashidhar Dandamudi
(Poem #1384) Autumn
 Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
 Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
 and on the meadows let the wind go free.

 Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
 grant them a few more warm transparent days,
 urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
 the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

 Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
 Whoever is alone will stay alone,
 will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
 and wander along the boulevards, up and down,
 restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.
-- Rainer Maria Rilke

The first fall day is here, at this latitude [Sep 29 - ed]. The long
sleeves come out of the closet as do dawns after 7.00 am. Light and darkness
slice the day almost evenly, two halves of a pumpkin. And as I wander along
the boulevards, up and down, only Rilke sings in the wind.


67 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

I almost thought I was reading a poem by Blake - one of his songs of

Thank you for sharing this.


rita liddle said...

A German, living in Australia where summer has begun, how lovely it is to wake up to Rilke's "Herbsttag" ("Autumnday"). (Summers here get cruelly hot and humid).

May I dream a little longer of the loooooong and magnificently bleak late autumn days in the old country, by posting this poem in the language in which it was written? Translations, as brilliant as they can be, never will give the whole picture, I think. For example, as consolingly sad as this poem is, there are moments of timid optimism which do not come through in the english version eg. line 9 in German reads: "who is alone now, will remain so for a long time" (not forever though:):))


Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

PS: Thank you to the hosts of this site. I always try to open the minstrels' site first thing in the morning, kind of like putting on protective clothing against the little nasties that the day might bring.


rita liddle said...

Whoooops ! What we call in German the "Sharp S" did not come out right. so please read the "=DF" as a double "s":

line 1: "gross"
line 7: "Süsse"

Faith Williams said...

Translator should be mentioned-- Rilke did not write
in English. This site has had wonderful poems--thanks

Mark O'Connor said...

Copying to you a translation you may not have seen of the poem you
commented upon:

Herbsttag by Rainer Maria Rilke

James McAuley's translation:


Heart, it is time. The fruitful summer yields.
The shadows fall across the figured dial,
The winds are loosed upon the harvest fields.
See that these last fruit swell upon the vine,
Grant them as yet a southern day or two
Then press them to fulfillment and pursue
The last of sweetness in the heady wine.

You shall be homeless, shall not build this year.
You shall be solitary and long alone.
Shall wake, and read, and write long letters home,
And on deserted pavements, here and there
Shall wander restless, as the leaves are blown.

This email is from
Mark O'Connor
Home .


Poetryfan said...

I love Rilke's poems and Autumn is a personal favorite..
The bleakness is not without optimism and the Autumnal loneliness is something I carry with me all the time.
Sashi I thought your footnote too was poignant and very well expressed.


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