Thursday, January 8, 2015

Rainer Maria Rilke: "Part Two, X" ["The Machine endangers all we have made"]

The Machine endangers all we have made.
We allow it to rule instead of obey.
To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver's hand takes too long to feel its way.

The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it's alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.

But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that—when you feel it—brings you to your knees.

There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.

"Part Two, X" ["The Machine endangers all we have made"] by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated from the original German by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. Text as published In Praise of Mortality (Riverhead, 2005). Reprinted with permission.

Read the German text online on p. 114 of this source.

Art credit: Image by unknown photographer.

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