The Swan by Rainer Maria Rilke | Poetry

Rainer Maria Rilke was an Austrian poet and novelist. Acclaimed as an idiosyncratic and expressive poet, he is widely recognized as a significant writer in the German language. His work is viewed by critics and scholars as possessing undertones of mysticism, exploring themes of subjective experience and disbelief. His writings include one novel, several collections of poetry and several volumes of correspondence.

The Swan by Rainer Maria Rilke

translated by Robert Bly

This clumsy living that moves lumbering

as if in ropes through what is not done,

reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is a letting go

of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,

is like the swan when he nervously lets himself down

into the water, which receives him gaily

and which flows joyfully under

and after him, wave after wave,

while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,

is pleased to be carried, each minute more fully grown,

more like a king, composed, farther and farther on.

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