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Rainer Maria Rilke

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

Archaic Torso of Apollo


We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
........................
........................
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  • Rookie Václav Z J Pinkava (6/26/2013 5:03:00 PM)

    Archaic Torso of Apollo

    We cannot know his legendary head
    wherein eye-apples ripened. Even so
    his torso's lasting candelabra-glow,
    in which his gaze, with light held back, instead

    holds fast and shines. Else scarcely would the curve
    of chest bedazzle you, soft gasped meanwhile
    loins could not draw a breath to bring a smile
    to that dark core of procreation's verve.

    If not, this stone would seem all too degraded
    under the shoulders to translucence faded
    without a glint of predatory mane;

    nor break the bars confining, out to range
    just like a star: for there is no domain
    hid from that gaze. It's time your life must change.

    (transl vzjp) (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Christopher Manuel Garc�a Vega (12/31/2009 12:34:00 AM)

    the poem seems to be suffused with the idea that a piece of art is a whole in itself. Rilke turns the beheaded Apollo into a living statue that at the end of the poem appears to be looking back at the admirer. there is this sensation that each part of the incomplete sculpture has a life of its own as the poet posits his eyes on them; and after a while this life that the poet communicates to the immobile statue is stolen by it to make a part of itself... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Tony Best (10/9/2007 7:13:00 AM)

    Rilke wrote in german. One of my favorite poems, I love the last line 'you must change your life.' Rilke was a master. His years with Rodin certainly paid off, I love how he describes the torso. Also, the inner brillance, and how when looking at a masterpiece it reminds one of greek gods. (Report) Reply

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