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26 Apr 2006

You Must Change Your Life.

Written by sally @ 9:53 am — Section: Uncategorized

I wrote the last two lines of this poem on a page in a notebook my sophomore year of college; it took me almost ten years to come across the poem again and identify it. Moral of the story: cite your sources!

Archaic Torso of Apollo
— Rainer Maria Rilke

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.*

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

*Gross.

(from The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, ed. and translated by Stephen Mitchell, Vintage, 1989)

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