02 October 2015

Early Apollo

(I continue my series of translations of favorite German poems.  "Früher Apollo", by Rainer Maria Rilke, opens the first part of his magnum opus Neue Gedichte, or "New Poems".)


Early Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke


As, many times through not yet budding branches
a morning peers down, for which
already it is spring: so is there in his head
nothing at all which could hinder, that the gleam

of all poems should almost strike us dead;
since still there is no shadow in his gaze
his temples still too cool for any laurel
and only later will there from his eyebrows

lift itself with mighty stems a rosary
the leaves from which, alone, released,
will be chased onto the trembling of the mouth

which is still silent, never-used and glinting
and drinking something only with his grin
as if his singing were infused within it.