excerpt from the ninth elegy


Why, if this interval of being can be spent serenely
in the form of a laurel, slightly darker than all
other green, with tiny waves on the edges
of every leaf (like the smile of a breeze) --: why then
have to be human - and, escaping from fate,
keep longing for fate?

Oh not because happiness exists,
that too-hasty profit snatched from approaching loss,
Not out of curiosity, not as practice for the heart, which
would exist in the laurel too....
But because truly being here is so much; because everything here
apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which is in some strange way
keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all.

Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too,
just once. And never again. But to have been
this once, completely, even if only once:
to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke