Poem: To Music

Rilke's poem conveys the expected bafflement at any attempt to describe what music is. (How music makes us feel is easier.) But he finds a way to show in words the paradox that music is from us, and is also somehow beyond us.

To Music by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated from German by Stephen Mitchell)

Music: breathing of statues. Perhaps:
silence of paintings. You language where all language
ends. You time
standing vertically on the motion of mortal hearts.

Feelings for whom? O you the transformation
of feelings into what? - into audible landscape.
You stranger: music. You heart-space
grown out of us. The deepest space in us,
which, rising above us, forces its way out, -
holy departure:
when the innermost point in us stands
outside, as the most practiced distance, as the other
side of the air:
pure,
boundless,
no longer habitable.

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