A meditation on the Rilke poem
In the morning after that night which fearfully
has passed in outcry, tumult, uproar,—
the sea split open once again and screamed.
And as the scream slowly closed again
and from the sky’s pale light and brightness fell back into the mute fishes’ chasm—:
the sea gave birth.
From first sun the hair-froth shimmered
on the wide curl of wave, on whose lip
the girl stood—white, wet, confused.
As a blade of new green leaf stirs,
stretches, uncoils itself and slowly opens,
her body unfolded into cool sea-air
and into untouched early morning breeze.
Like moons the knees rose brightly
and ducked into the cloud¬ rims of the thighs;
the calves’ slender shadows retreated,
the feet flexed and grew luminous,
and the joints came alive like the throats
And in the hips’ chalice lay the belly,
like a young fruit in a child’s hand.
Within its navel’s narrow cup was all
the darkness that this bright life contained.
Beneath it the small wave rose lightly
and lapped continuously toward the loins,
where now and then there was a silent ripple.
But translucent and yet without shadow,
like a birch stand in early April,
warm, empty, and unhidden, lay the sex.
Now the shoulders’ quick scales stood already
in perfect balance on the upright body,
which rose from the pelvis like a fountain
and fell hesitantly in the long arms
and more swiftly in the hairs’ cascades.
Then very slowly the face went past:
out of downtilted darkness
into clear, horizontal upliftedness.
And behind it the sharp closing of the chin.
Now, with the neck stretched like a ray of light,
and like flower-stalks in which the sap rises,
the arms too stretched out like necks
of swans, when they are searching for the shore.
Then into this body’s dark dawning
came the first breath like morning wind.
In the vein-trees’ tenderest branches
a whispering arose, and the blood began
rushing louder over its deep places.
And this wind increased; now it plunged
with all its might into the newborn breasts
and filled them and crowded into them,-
so that like sails full of distance
they drove the light girl toward the shore.
And thus the goddess landed.
Behind her, as she strode swiftly on through the young shores,
all morning the flowers and the grasses
sprang up, warm, confused,
as from embracing. And she walked and ran.
But at noon, in the heaviest hour,
the sea rose up once more and threw
a dolphin on that selfsame spot.
Dead, red, and open.