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You must change your life

April 25, 2011

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
-Rainer Maria Rilke, Archaic Torse of Apollo

It’s still poetry month, you guys.  There’s nothing unusual about Rilke’s death, except, like many good poets, he died a little on the young side (but it was the turn of the century so maybe people were putting leeches on him or something).  What is unusual? He had 740 middle names: René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 25, 2011 3:33 am

    I don’t think that’s particularly unusual for posher Europeans: Brian Eno’s full name is “Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno.” My job often has me sorting Portuguese legal names, which get redonkulous since there’s a bounded universe parents can lawfully name their children. It’s typical to see something like “Rui Manuel Tiago São Simão da Silva,” and, in daily life, I’ll have to remember who’s “Ana Raquel” and who’s “Ana Catarina.”

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