Jeremiah : Rainer Maria Rilke

Jeremiah

Once I was as tender as young wheat,
yet you, you raging one, were able
to inflame the heart held out to you
so that now it boils like a lion’s.

What a mouth you demanded of me,
back then when I was almost a boy;
it became a wound; out of it now
bleeds year after doom-pronounced year.

Each day I sounded with new afflictions
which you, insatiate one, devised,
and none of them could kill my mouth;
consider now how you will quiet it

when those we devastate and crush
are finally lost and driven far away
and have perished in the danger:
for I want then amidst the rubble-heaps
finally to hear my own voice again —
which from its first moments was a howling.

-tr. Edward Snow

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