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Rainer Maria Rilke’s Seven ‘Phallic’ Poems

I’m reading Christopher Hitchens’s Letters to a Young Contrarian. In it he mentions Rilke’s Seven ‘Phallic’ Poems which ‘openingly announce that fucking is its own justification.’ Here they are:
 
The Seven Phallic Poems
I
The rose-gatherer grasps suddenly
The full bud of his vitality,
And, at fright at the difference,
The gentle garden within her shrinks.
 
II
Summer, which you so suddenly are, you’re
Drawing my seed up into an abrupt tree.
(Inner spaciousness, feel in yourself the lee
Of night in which it is mature.)
Now to the firmament it rose and grew,
A mirror-image resembling a tree.
O fell it, that, having turned unerringly
In your womb, it knows the counter-haven anew,
In which it really towers and really races.
Daring landscape, such as an inner-seer
Beholds in a crystal ball. That innerness here
In which the being-outside of stars chases.
There dawns death which shines outside like night.
And there, joined with all futures,
Are all who once were, the finite,
Crowds crowded round crowds for sure,
As the angel intends it outright.
 
III
We close a circle by means of our gazes,
And in it the tangled tension fuses white.
Already your unwitting command raises
The column in my genital-woodsite.
Granted by you, the image of the god stands
At the gentle crossroads under my clothes;
My whole body is named after him. We both
Matter like a province in his magic lands.
Yet yours is to be grove and heaven around
The Hermean pillar. Yield. Thereby freedom
For the god along with his hounds,
Withrawn from the delightfully ravaged column.
 
IV
You don’t know towers, with your diffidence.
Yet now you’ll become aware
Of a tower in that wonderful rare
Space in you. Hide your countenance.
You’ve erected it unsuspectingly,
By turn and glance and indirection,
And I, blissful one, am allowed entry.
Ah, how in there I am so tight.
Coax me to come forth to the summit:
So as to fling into your soft night,
With the soaring of a womb-dazzling rocket,
More feeling than I am quite.
 
V
How the too ample space has weakened you and me.
Superfluity recollects itself suddenly.
Now wormwood and absinthe trickle through silent
Sieves of kisses of bitter essence.
How much we are – from my body
A new tree raises its abundant crown
And mounts toward you: but what’s it to be
Without the summer which hovers in your womb.
Are you, am I, the one each so greatly delights?
Who can say, while we dwindle. Perhaps a column
Of rapture stands in the chamber room,
Sustains the vault, and more slowly subsides.
 
VI
To what are we near? To death, or that display
Which is not yet? For what would be clay to clay
Had not the god feelingly formed the figure
Which grows between us. But understand for sure:
This is my body which is resurrected.
Now gently deliver it from the burning grave
Into that heaven which in you I crave:
That from it survival be boldly effected.
You young place of ascension deep.
You dark breeze of summery pollen.
When its thousand spirits romp madly all in
You, my stiff corpse again grows soft asleep.
 
VII
How I called you. This is the mute call
Which within me has grown sweet awhile.
Now step after step into you I thrust all
And my semen climbs gladly like a child.
You primal peak of pleasure: suddenly well-nigh
Breathless it leaps to your inner ridge.
O surrender yourself to feeling its pilgrimage;
For you’ll be hurled down when it waves on high.
 
(R.M. Rilke, 1915. Translated by J.B. Leishman)

 

 

 
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