Rilke – Duino Elegies

And if I cried, who’d listen to me in those angelic

orders? Even if one of them suddenly held me

to his heart, I’d vanish in his overwhelming

presence. Because beauty’s nothing

but the start of terror we can hardly bear,

and we adore it because of the serene scorn

it could kill us with. Every angel’s terrifying.

 

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot - Hagar and the Angel sketch

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot – Hagar and the Angel sketch

 

(This was the first stanza of the first Elegy of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies, translated by A. Poulin, Jr.)

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