Should I fear a dreadful Angel?

[This is the first -and older- among several drafts left here by my sister Ariel weeks or months ago. I don’t know exactly when. Like the others it is not finished (or so I guess), but the portion of the poem and its translation into English are complete according to the note below (“Duineser Elegien”; I, 1-7), so I feel like publishing it -with some very minor editions relative to punctuation and some typographic errors (hoping much not having introduced some by my own hand).]     

Not long from now, soon, I will meet some angels. I do remember to have met them before, and don’t nourish any fear; on the contrary. I will feel more safe and confident than I’ve ever been in my entire earthly life.

Despite of what the poem says, if one of them suddenly holds me to her/his heart -again, after these few ephemeral years- I will shine and beam thanks to his/her loving touch and, in fact, mere presence.

If it’s her, I know her true name; if it’s him, I know, at least, two of his incidental names… So I will call them, stare at their glance, wait to see in them the recognition I’ll be expecting. And then I might lift my mouth towards them to kiss, extend my arms to hug them, open myself to be taken fully whenever they would, if they would.

There may come up to seven; but I long for the two of them who are watching me almost all the while behind my eyelids; so brightly green at my right; so richly blue and purple at my left.

They will be so dearly welcome that I won’t fear anything. I will rejoice -and would almost wish my immediate death were I allowed to do so.

Said all this, I love this Elegy as much as any other poem by Rilke, and I agree with his words about Beauty.

“Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the orders
of Angels? And even if one should suddenly
hold me to his heart, I would fade back before
his stronger existence. For beauty is nothing
but the beginning edge of the dread we may barely endure,
and which we admire too, because it quietly disdains
to annihilate us. Every Angel is dreadful.”

Wer, wenn ich schriee, hörte mich denn auss der Engel
Ordnungen? Und gesetz selbst, es nähme
einer mich plötzlich ans Herz: ich verginge von seinem
stärkeren Dasein. Denn das Schöne ist nichts
als des Schrecklichen Anfang, denn wir noch grade ertragen,
und wir bewundern es so, weil es gelassen verschmäht,
und zu zerstören. Ein jeder Engel ist schrecklich.

    Rainer Maria Rilke (“Duineser Elegien”; I, 1-7; 1912  -translated by L. Fontrodona (2013))

Santa Maria d'Àneu (detall d'un serafí. Original a Boston)
Seraphim (detail from the Romanesque murals at Santa Maria d’Àneu, Pallars Sobirà – Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya)

 

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8 thoughts on “Should I fear a dreadful Angel?

  1. In beauty and grace have you departed, such as you lived in our short time here, as I have known you. Still shall we meet, when the appointed time does come. I love you for Eternity, and pray that you have found Peace, Love, Happiness and ALL that you desire.

    Liked by 1 person

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