Rilke and the Buddha: 3 Translations

By | 12 October 2012


As if he were listening. Silence: far away …
We hush and no longer hear it.
And he is a star. And surrounding him
are other giant stars that we can’t see.

O he is everything. Really, are we waiting
that he might see us? Should he have need?
And were we to prostrate ourselves before him
he would remain deep and idle like a beast.

For that which tears us to his feet
has revolved in him for millions of years.
What we undergo he has forgotten
and that which excludes us, he knows.


Already from afar the foreign shy
pilgrim feels the golden shimmering;
as if the rich filled with remorse
had piled up their secrecies.

But coming nearer he is stupefied
by the grandeur of the eyebrows:
for these are not their drinking vessels
or pendant earrings of their women.

Could anyone then say, which
things were melted down to erect
the figure on this calyx:

muter and a calmer yellow
than a golden figure and touching
the surrounding space as itself.


Centre of all centres, core of cores,
almond that encloses and sweetens itself –
everything, reaching to all the stars
is your fruit’s flesh: Hail.

Look, you feel how nothing clings to you;
now your shell surrounds the infinite
and there the strong sap dwells and rises.
And from without a radiance assists him

for high above your suns are turned,
whole and glowing, in their orbits.
Yet in you has already begun
what endures beyond the suns.


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