Evening Poetry, June 25

Guardian Angel

by Rainer Maria Rilke

You are the bird whose wings came

when I wakened in the night and called.

Only with my arms I called, because your name

is like a chasm, a thousand nights deep.

You are the shadows in which I quietly slept,

and your seed devised in me each dream,—

you are the image, but I am the frame

that makes you stand in glittering relief.

What shall I call you? Look, my lips are lame.

You are the beginning that gushes forth,

I am the slow and fearful Amen

that timidly concludes your beauty.

You have often snatched me out of dark rest

when sleep seemed like a grave to me

and like getting lost and fleeing,—

then you raised me out of heart-darknesses

and tried to hoist me onto all towers

like scarlet flags and bunting.

You: who talk of miracles as of common knowledge

and of men and women as of melodies

and of roses: of events

that in your eyes blazingly take place,—

you blessed one, when will you at last name Him

from whose seventh and last day

shards of glory can still be found

on the beating of your wings …

Do I need to ask?

You can find this poem in The Book of Images.

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