Saturday, May 6, 2017
I will close with a bit of the Duino Elegies. These are difficult, very intellectual poems, hard to translate from German, and so not widely read. But some intellectual agnostics consider them among the most profound meditations ever authored on the question of how to live in a world without faith.
Not because there is happiness,
that rash profit taken just prior to impending loss,
not out of curiosity, or to give the heart practice,
reasons that would hold for the laurel too…
but because being here is so much, and because everything
in this fleeting world seems to need us, and
strangely speaks to us. Us, the most fleeting. Once
for everything, only once. Once and no more. And we, too,
only once. Never again. But to have been,
this once, if only this once:
to have been of the earth can never be taken back.
--Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies
Translated by Galway Kinnell and Hannah Liebmann