November 01, 2012

"The Swan" by Rainer Maria Rilke

translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows


This laboring of ours with all that remains undone,
as if still bound to it,
is like the lumbering gait of the swan.

And then our dying—releasing ourselves
from the very ground on which we stood—
is like the way he hesitantly lowers himself

into the water. It gently receives him,
and, gladly yielding, flows back beneath him,
as wave follows wave,
while he, now wholly serene and sure,
with regal composure,
allows himself to glide.

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is a philospher of ecology and a scholar of Buddhism. Her translations include Rilke's Book of Hours and A Year with Rilke.