Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke (1918)/Music

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Poems  (1918)  by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Jessie Lemont


What play you, O Boy? Through the garden it stole
Like wandering steps, like a whisper—then mute;
What play you, O Boy? Lo! your gypsying soul
Is caught and held fast in the pipes of Pan's flute.

And what conjure you? Imprisoned is the song,
It lingers and longs in the reeds where it lies;
Your young life is strong, but how much more strong
Is the longing that through your music sighs.

Let your flute be still and your soul float through
Waves of sound formless as waves of the sea,
For here your song lived and it wisely grew
Before it was forced into melody.

Its wings beat gently, its note no more calls,
Its flight has been spent by you, dreaming Boy!
Now it no longer steals over my walls—
But in my garden I'd woo it to joy.