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