I had you penned—shepherd
singer, rifleman, drummer
farmer’s son, anger’s creature
honor’s fledged, one alone
mourning, hoping, anointed
afraid—beneath this glaze
you crack and fade, rise
river-like, green and gone
to shadow

Reading Mitchell’s Rilke again: The Spanish Trilogy.

Of “those long childhood hours when you were so afraid”

this cloud-built summer storm—
we watch, insulated from all
youth’s electricity of wonder
and fear, saying it can’t hurt
us, can’t come in; backed
by scientific assurance
of two-score rock-solid years
unmovable, stony to the core

and is it good that we outgrew
that fear, traded it for what
endless repetition of even sunlit
days, ducks pond-gliding

(from that storm-dream of sword
and flame-leaping I wake
happy as if I’d been reading:
comfort for a workaday
monday morn)

Title from Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Rilke’s “Vor dem Sommerregen” (“Before Summer Rain”).

Reading Rilke’s “Evening” Before Sleep

It reminds me of my youth; and alternately

my aging. This heart that drops stone-

complacent or lifts like mountains in

new birth: stirring, violent. You

look at me (do you see beyond what mirrors?) and

together we seek the burning secret of a star.


A “golden shovel” poem after the last line in Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Evening.”

And how the silence surged softly backward

The earth keeps some vibration going:

The hoarse leaves crawl on hissing ground,

Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick.

The warning whispers pass

With songs of misery, music of our woes.


My soul, dressed in silence, rises up.

Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn

With only our tongues for our swords

And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know–

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.


My attempt at a cento. The title is from Walter De La Mare’s “Listeners.”