The Beholder

I see in the Trees the Storms,

that from dull-grown Days

against my angst-filled Windows beat,

and hear the Far, Things say,

that which without a Friend I cannot bear,

without a Sister cannot love.

There goes the Storm, a Reshaper,

goes through the Wood and through Time,

and Everything as without Age:

the Landscape, like a Verse in Psalms,

is Grave and Weight and Eternity.

How is it small, that with which we wrestle,

what with us wrestles, how is it great,

would we let ourselves, more like the Things,

ourselves so from the great Storm be beaten, –

we would become vast and nameless.

What we conquer is the Small,

and the Triumph itself makes us small.

The Eternal and Tremendous

will not by us be bent.

That is the Angel, who to the Wrestlers

of the Old Testament appeared:

when his Adversary’s Sinews

in Combat metallic straining,

feeling them underneath his Fingers

like Strings of deep Melodies.

He whom this Angel overcame,

who so often from Conflict abstains,

he goes fairly and erect

and great from that hard Hand,

that, as though shaping, to him closely nestled.

The Victories entertain him not.

His Growth is: being Deeply Vanquished

by ever Greater Things.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Translation by Jesse Kopp