Rainer Maria Rilke

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

Child in Red


Sometimes she walks through the village in her
little red dress
all absorbed in restraining herself,
and yet, despite herself, she seems to move
according to the rhythm of her life to come.

She runs a bit, hesitates, stops,
half-turns around...
and, all while dreaming, shakes her head
for or against.

Then she dances a few steps
that she invents and forgets,
no doubt finding out that life
moves on too fast.

It's not so much that she steps out
of the small body enclosing her,
but that all she carries in herself
frolics and ferments.

It's this dress that she'll remember
later in a sweet surrender;
when her whole life is full of risks,
the little red dress will always seem right.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Child in Red by Rainer Maria Rilke )

  • Rookie Minu Jasdanwala (1/10/2012 11:58:00 AM)

    Rilke observes a little girl donned in her red dress about to pitch feet in her life towards woman hood. She unconsciously seems to be in the preparation time of the next to next level of life but she controls her frame of the body shakily. Her walk becomes a run, it terminates and there is looking around here and there. Like a woman in her course of life, first she takes steps and decisions, then she walks with the current of the situations with haste, also hesitates and gives a thought to be or against a certain given situation. This little girl child is miniature of the mature woman with her doubts of her standards. With a momentary of happiness there is her indigenous dancing but she feels she is going fast. Parallel to it, a mature woman’s dancing implies a relationship which may not always be safe and loyal. There would still be doubt. This dancing of the child is not the outcome of forcing herself but it is the light hearted display of exaltation and development. When she will actually become a woman, she will submit herself to the man and to the risks of marital and social affairs and it would be that time when she may reflect this stumbling and falling and hesitation as better than those she will find later. This child as every child would advance in age but would mourn for the bygone.
    minu jasdanwala (Report) Reply

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