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The Little Review
Making No Compromises With the Public Taste
Poem for Friday 
Friday, 18th March 2005 12:13 am

I'm Too Alone in the World, Yet Not Alone Enough
By Ranier Maria Rilke
Translated by Anita Barrows

I'm too alone in the world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour holy.
I'm too small in the world, yet not small enough
to be simply in your presence, like a thing --
just as it is.

I want to know my own will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones --
I want to mirror your immensity.

I want never to be too weak or too old
to bear the heavy, lurching image of you.

I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
I want to stay clear in your sight.


I couldn't decide which translation I liked better, so today you get two versions of the same poem. This is from Rilke's The Book of Hours: Love Poems to God.

I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone
By Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Annemarie S. Kidder

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small enough
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother's face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.


You know you have it bad for Highlander when you're out driving and you catch yourself composing a songvid in your head to Survivor's "Man Against the World." *facepalm*

Had another nice and completely insane day which has given me a horrible case of indigestion but was otherwise pretty fun. After another morning of chores, I met vertigo66 for lunch, to exchange some stuff and do some last-minute shopping (I think I now have enough camera bags for all the members of my family bringing cameras to England) and try, without success, to find an inspirational 40th birthday present for apaulled. Know how I asked when Valentine's Day had turned into Halloween? Now I have to ask: when did Easter turn into Valentine's Day? I thought Easter was a pretty religious holiday by comparison to Christmas, and except for eggs and a couple of bunnies not so much of a commercial orgy, but based on the hundreds of different varieties of pastel candy, stuffed animals, baskets, candles, ceramics, lawn ornaments, etc., I am obviously misinformed! I did make one happy discovery, however. My younger son has been very annoyed since he got braces that he could not eat Peeps, since the marshmallow is deadly to the wires. But now there are Peeps-brand pens and pencils, and I got him a set of pencils with Peep-shaped erasers and he was quite happy.

Good thing, too, because he got dragged around like crazy from the time he got home from school, when he had to rush through his homework so he could be taken to violin by his father while I was picking older son up from the late bus after the math team; then we all rushed out to the middle school for the science and technology fair tonight, eating sandwiches in the van before rushing inside. There were at least a dozen rooms of exhibits by students, with an emphasis on science rather than technology because -- get this -- the state decided not to fund the technology expo so the competition at the upper levels was only for strictly scientific categories. (My son's project that he's been working on is technology -- an invention that I must say is a very clever one.) There were speakers as well on everything from environmental issues to the Department of Energy. We convinced our kids to forego the high-speed photography demonstration and the Hubble telescope show because the local TV meteorologist whom Paul and I have watched for nearly 20 years was speaking on weather forecasting. He was very friendly, signing autographs and posing for pictures after his child-friendly talk on thunderstorms and tornados. There was a camera crew in the room which I had thought was the school's AV crew because the guys seemed very young, but apparently they were from Channel 7, because when we turned on the late news, there was my younger son! You could see all of us for a second but he got a closeup. *g*

I have barely had time to sit today let alone start controversy, and I hate to agree with Jeb Bush, Mel Gibson and a whole host of other despicable would-be ethical dictators on anything, but the more I read about Terri Schiavo and the legal ramifications of what her husband calls her right to die with dignity and her parents call medically-sanctioned murder, the less I think that a man who wants to be completely free for his new family and a bunch of neurologists who've spent far less time with her than her condition warrants have a right to dictate that she should be starved to death. Prisoners on death row get more consideration from the courts than she's had. I am a hundred percent in favor of people who choose to die being assisted (my rants about certain movies notwithstanding -- that was about the presentation of euthanasia in film, not the underlying right to it). But Schiavo doesn't have a living will, her wishes are not at all clear (and even if they were, death by starvation is hardly one that most people would choose). She's neither brain-dead nor in what all doctors agree is a persistent vegetative state; she isn't hooked up to machines that keep her alive except for assistance in feeding her. There's evidence that she enjoys her life, and -- although this really shouldn't be a concern anyway -- enough offers of assistance that keeping her alive won't deprive other patients of money or care.

As much as it scares me to have the courts overrule a husband's wishes, it scares me even more to say that in all cases, a husband's statement about what he believes his wife would wish should override all other concerns. There are times when court intervention is the only way to save a woman's life from an abusive spouse. (The same goes if the genders are reversed, of course.) This husband has sought to end his wife's life without seeking treatment for her, putting her in hospice care instead of rehabilitation. Without evidence in writing that she would want to die, I find it appalling that the courts will deny her the right to live. And that may mean rooting for a bill that will have far more sweeping implications, which may make euthanasia more difficult than it is already for patients, their family members and doctors. It pisses me off so much that all the rest of us are caught between these extremes, having to decide whether to support a decision that will lead to the painful death of a woman with a family that wants to care for her and treat her or whether to hope that the right to die remains inviolable and in the hands of spouses, the presumed next-of-kin.

Friday I am having lunch with two of my favorite women, juleskicks and lohowarose, and having dinner with my parents in between more chores. I am hoping to remain sane for a few more days!

WJLA meteorologist Doug Hill talking about weather at my son's school.
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