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Love Song

How should I keep my soul, so that
it might not touch upon yours? How shall I
lift it beyond you to other things?
Gladly would I wish to conceal it away
among some lost thing in the dark
in an unfamiliar silent place that
remains motionless when your depths resound.
Yet everything that touches us, you and me,
takes us together as a single stroke of the bow,
drawing from two strings one voice.
Upon what instrument are we spanned?
And which violinist has us in his hand?
Oh sweet song.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Notes: Rainer Maria Rilke is not an easy poet to translate, for he chose each word with care, and in these translations I chose to sacrifice ``literalness'' for ``mood''. Lines 11--12 rhyme in the German and the English in a similar way. The poem itself speaks to the fear of losing one's own identity when loving someone else, and ends with both yearning and resignation.

The german original is also available on this site.