She did not pause or look behind,

A scarlet stain, a shadow on the grass,

A frozen glance amid the fervid riot of Spring

Leaving me a prisoner of the hours,

A sleeping self, a deaf and sleeping stone.

The trees, the very grasses marveled as she was swept away,

 Caught in the cold coil of his arms, the very soul of me.


See her there descending, a wisp of veil descending

Whose scheme was this, whose design?

Then, my Lord of Songs, show me this Lord of Shadows, make him say.

Why must he have everything? By what right does he claim

this simple girl for his dark and heartless realm,

this simple girl, so dear to me?



Und fast ein Mädchen wars und ging hervor

aus diesem einigen Glück von Sang und Leier

und glänzte klar durch ihre Frühlingsschleier

und machte sich ein Bett in meinem Ohr.

Und schlief in mir. Und alles war ihr Schlaf.

Die Bäume, die ich je bewundert, diese

fühlbare Ferne, die gefühlte Wiese

und jedes Staunen, das mich selbst betraf.

 Sie schlief die Welt. Singender Gott, wie hast

du sie vollendet, daß sie nicht begehrte,

erst wach zu sein? Sieh, sie erstand und schlief.

Wo ist ihr Tod? O, wirst du dies Motiv

erfinden noch, eh sich dein Lied verzehrte? –

Wo sinkt sie hin aus mir? ... Ein Mädchen fast ...

Auguste  Rodin's exquisite sculpture (1893) captures the fateful moment when Orpheus, leading his wife Eurydice out if Hades, is about to look back and lose his beloved  forever.


Courtesy Met Museum of Art Archive

Here is the second “parallel poem” based on the German poet Rainier Rilke’s “Sonnets to Orpheus.” The concept guiding a “parallel poem” is to offer a reflection rather than a literal translation of the original. The result is a new way of perceiving the original while staying true to its core theme. The parallel might be thought of as a musical accompaniment to the original but not in sonnet form.  Rilke's German orginal is on the right.