Answering Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus
Sadness of all life, life of all sadness —
pouring death into fourteen lines,
you poured it well, smooth and steady,
twisting just so to catch the drip.
But I pity your ecstatic butterfly —
clutched in the grip of some poetic hiccough,
arrested flutter of the diaphragm.
I pity your fountain mouth,
your sleeping ear,
your blackened, aging chin.
And I pity your monuments,
so lonely, so unerected.
I pity the lyre — its indefinite,
soundless echo. Its player:
tired fingers, tired eyes,
nothing more to look back for,
yet the song goes on.