Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bowl of Roses

You've seen caged anger flare, seen two boys
knot themselves into a ball
of pure hatred, writhing on the ground
like an animal attacked by bees;
you've seen play-actors, sky-high exaggerators,
careening horses crashing down,
flinging their eyes around, baring their teeth
as if their muzzles were peeling away from their skulls

But now you see how such things are forgotten:
for before you stands the full bowl of roses,
which is unforgettable and wholly filled
with that utmost of presence and promise,
of offering up, beyond any power to give, of being here,
that might be ours- our utmost as well.

Living in silence, endlessly opening,
making use of space without taking space
from the space adjacent things diminish,
barest hint of outline, like untouched ground
and pure withinness, all strangely soft
and self-illuminating - to the very edge:
is there anything we know like this?

And like this: that a feeling arises
because flower petals touch petals?
And this: that one opens like an eye,
and under it lie eyelid after eyelid,
all tightly closed, as if through tenfold sleep
they might curb an inner power of sight.
And this above all: that through these petals
light must pass. From a thousand skies
slowly they filter out the drop of darkness
within whose fiery glow the tangled pack
of stamens bestirs itself and springs erect.
And the movement in the roses, look:
gestures from vibrations so minute
that they'd remain invisible, if their rays
did not fan out into the universe.

Look at that white one, blissfully opened
and standing there amid its spread of petals
like a Venus balanced on her shell;
and the blushing one, which as if flustered
turns across to one that is cool,
and how the cool one withdraws aloof,
and how that cold one stands, wrapped in itself,
among the open ones, that shed everything.
And what they shed: how it can be
at once light and heavy, a cloak, a burder,
a wing and a mask - it all depends -
and how they shed it: as before the loved one.

What can't they be: was that yellow one,
which lies there hollow and open, not the rind
of a fruit in which that very yellow,
more intense, more orange-red, was juice?
And was mere opening too much for this one,
since touched by air its inexpressible pink
has taken on the bitter aftertaste of lilac?
And that cambric one, is it not a dress
in which the shift still clings, soft and breath-warm,
both of them cast off together
in the morning shadows by the old woodland pond?
And this one, opalescent porcelain,
fragile, a shallow china cup
and full of tiny brilliant butterflies, - 
and that one, containing nothing but itself.

And aren't they all that way, simply self-containing,
if self-containing means: to transform the world outside
and the wind and rain and patience of Spring
and guilt and restlessness and muffled fate
and the darkness of the evening of earth
out to the roaming and flying and fleeing of the clouds
and the vague influence of distant stars
into a handful of inwardness.

Now it lies carefree in these opened roses.

~ Rilke

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