Still, because I consider this to be a blog about enthusiasms, not strictures, I do not intend to warn anybody off Rilke's poetry. Although my tastes tend to run to the likes of Larkin and Edward Thomas and Hardy, I am not interested in grinding axes. Life is too short.
Well, after that little diversion, there are poems by Rilke that I like a great deal. The following poem (which, as it happens, was translated by Randall Jarrell) came to mind after I posted Jarrell's "The Breath of Night." Twilight, stars in the trees, eternity, mortality, and so on . . .
The evening folds about itself the dark
Garments the old trees hold out to it.
You watch: and the lands are borne from you,
One soaring heavenward, one falling;
And leave you here, not wholly either's,
Not quite so darkened as the silent houses,
Not quite so surely summoning the eternal
As that which each night becomes star, and rises;
And leave you (inscrutably to unravel)
Your life: the fearful and ripening and enormous
Being that -- bounded by everything, or boundless --
For a moment becomes stone, for a moment stars.
Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Randall Jarrell), in Randall Jarrell, The Woman at the Washington Zoo (1960).
For purposes of comparison, here is another translation of the same poem.
The sky puts on the darkening blue coat
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight,
one journeying to heaven, one that falls;
and leave you, not at home in either one,
not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses,
not calling to eternity with the passion
of what becomes a star each night, and rises;
and leave you (inexpressibly to unravel)
your life, with its immensity and fear,
so that, now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star.
Stephen Mitchell (editor and translator), The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke (1982).