As long as you catch self-thrown things…

ImageAs long as you catch self-thrown things

it’s all dexterity and venial gain-;

only when suddenly you hold that ball

which she, one of the eternal players,

has tossed to you, to your center, with

a precisely judged throw, in one of those arcs

that exist in God’s great bridge system:

only then is catching a proficiency,-

not yours, a world’s. And if then you had

the strength and courage to return the throw-

no, more wonderful – forgot strength and courage

and had thrown¬†already….(the way the year

throws the birds, those migrating bird swarms,

which an older to a younger warmth sends

catapulting across oceans-) only in

that venture would you truly play the game.

No longer making the toss easy; no longer making

it hard. Out of your hands the meteor

would launch itself and flame into its spaces…

Rilke, Muzot, January 31, 1922

translated by E. Snow

Image: artist unknown

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