Rainer Maria Rilke

(4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926 / Prague / Czech Republic)

A Walk


My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.


Translated by Robert Bly

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Kyarunai Mansiko (10/24/2012 8:13:00 PM)

    I love how he worded this. So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp... I wish that one day I could write like this! (or at least half as good) (Report) Reply

  • Bridie Crann (11/29/2006 4:16:00 PM)

    I must say that the observations made by Jagannath Rao Adukuri immediately elevated my appreciation of this poem; here is an instance where reader commentary has great value, and I am grateful to those who take the time to add insightful impressions.
    I agree that Nick Bronson's modifications make sense, but considering Adukuri's reading of personification, I see meaning in the translation as it stands, as well. I wonder if anyone has found an alternate translation...? (Report) Reply

  • Nick Bronson (8/5/2006 2:14:00 PM)

    There is a misprint in this fine translation of Rilke's poem, which has unfortunately found its way around the internet (I've seen the same erroneous wording at several sites) . The line '...it has inner light, even from a distance- and charges us, even if we do not reach it, into something else', should read '...it has ITS inner light, even from a distance - and CHANGES us...'. Though the missing 'its' is minor, the word 'charges' simply makes no sense, and should never have made its way into a reprinting of the poem. (Report) Reply

  • Nick Bronson (8/5/2006 2:11:00 PM)

    There is a misprint in this fine translation of Rilke's poem, which has unfortunately found its way around the internet (I've seen the same erroneous wording at several sites) . The line '...it has inner light, even from a distance- and charges us, even if we do not reach it, into something else, , , ' should read '...it has ITS inner light, evern from a distance - and CHANGES us...'. Though the missing 'its' is minor, the word 'charges' simply makes no sense, and should never have made its way into a reprinting of the poem. (Report) Reply

  • Jagannath rao Adukuri (3/22/2006 12:43:00 AM)

    The poet is walking towards the hill but his vision reaches the hill far ahead of the physical distance covered by his feet. The inner light of the hill grasps his own soul and transforms it spiritually much before his own inner luminescence reaches it. It is as though the hill is making a gesture of kinship with him in response to his own gesture. All that he feels is the gentle wind touching his face.


    Here, sensory impressions are used to create beautiful images. The hill is personified attributing to it human qualities such as “charges”, “gesture”, “grasping”. A beautiful combination of the visual and tactile elements recreates the situation in which the poet re-experiences the intensity of the moment as “emotion recollected in tranquility (Report) Reply

  • Inday Day (3/28/2005 6:39:00 PM)

    I like this poem. I was not familiar with it until a friend told me about this particular poem. I thought at first that it sounded paradoxical but after I read the whole poem, I found it spiritually based. (Report) Reply

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