Oh, Rilke, how I adore you.
from Book of Hours
You, darkness, of whom I am born —
I love you more than the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illumines
and excludes all the rest.
But the darkness embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations — just as they are.
It lets me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.
I believe in the night.
translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
“Night is a Cistern”
by Adam Zagajewski (1945- )
Night is a cistern. Owls sing. Refugees tread meadow roads
with the loud rustling of endless grief.
Who are you, walking in this worried crowd.
And who will you become, who will you be
when day returns, and ordinary greetings circle round.
Night is a cistern. The last pair dances at a country ball.
High waves cry from the sea, the wind rocks pines.
An unknown hand draws the dawn’s first stroke.
Lamps fade, a motor chokes.
Before us, life’s path, and instants of astronomy.