BreathBreath, you invisible poem,

Pure exchange, sister to silence,

Being and its counterbalance,

Rhythm wherein I become.

Ocean I accumulate by stealth,

By the same slow wave,

Thriftiest of seas,

Thief of the whole cosmos.

What estates? What vast spaces have already poured through my lungs?

The four winds are like daughters to me.

So do you know me, air that once sailed through me?

You, that were once the leaf and rind of my every word.

 

This comes from The Sonnets to Orpheus Book II by the bohemian Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926). He wrote the cycle of 55 sonnets in 1922, over a period of 3 weeks, experiencing what he described a “savage, creative storm.” Inspired by the news of the death of Wera Ouckama Knoop (1900-1919), a friend of his daughter Ruth, he dedicated them to her as a memorial or grab-mal (grave maker.)

In this cycle he draws attention to ourselves as a medium. Rilke wrote in a letter in 1920, “ultimately there is only one poet, the Infinite One who makes himself felt, here and there through the ages, in a mind that can surrender to him.”