By Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Susan McLean
We know nothing about this going hence,
which shares nothing with us. We’ve no foundation
for showing hate or love and reverence
toward death, whose mask of tragic lamentation
strangely disfigures him. The world is still
full of roles we play. As long as we
worry about performing pleasingly,
death playacts, too, but does not please at all.
But when you went, then into this staged scene
a streak of authenticity burst through
that crack you left by: green of real green,
genuine sunshine, real forest, too.
We go on acting. Fearfully we say
our hard-learned lines, and gesture now and then,
but, far removed from us and from our play,
your own transported state of being can
come over us at times like knowledge sent
below from that reality: we pause,
carried away awhile in ravishment,
and act our life not thinking of applause.