Carpe sine carpe

Da neigt sch die Stunde und rührt mich an
mit klarem metallenem Schlag:
mir zittern die Sinne. Ich fühle: ich kann –
und ich fasse den plastischen Tag.

— Rilke’s opening, in the original

The hour is falling and it touches me
with a clear, metallic blow:
my senses are trembling. I feel: I can –
I seize the plastic day.
– tr Neil McAarthur

Variation On A Theme By Rilke
(The Book of Hours, Book I, Poem 1, Stanza 1)

A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me — a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out, metallic — or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.

~ Denise Levertov

I live my life in circles that grow wide
And endlessly unroll,
I may not reach the last, but on I glide
Strong pinioned toward my goal.

About the old tower, dark against the sky,
The beat of my wings hums,
I circle about God, sweep far and high
On through milleniums.

Am I a bird that skims the clouds along,
Or am I a wild storm, or a great song?

Jessie Lemont, translating Rilke

image from Joe Riley’s Panhala listserve

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