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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.


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

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