Portrait of My Father as a Young Man

Rainer Maria Rilke
Translation by Daniel Kingery

In the eyes: a dream. The forehead as if in contact

with something distant. Around the mouth so much

youth, un-smiled seduction,

and in front of the full, ornamental braids

of the slim noble uniform

the saber’s woven hilt and both hands –, which

wait, calm, pressed not to move.

And now, barely still visible: as if they,

first grasping far-away things, disappeared.

And everything else, entangled in its own fate

and erased as if we didn’t understand

and deep from its own cloudy depths–.


You slowly fading daguerreotype

in my more slowly fading hands.

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