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POETRY: Rainer Maria Rilke from The Sonnets to Orpheus



Oh this is the animal that never was.
They hadn't seen one; but just the same, they loved
its graceful movements, and the way it stood
looking at them calmly, with clear eyes.

It had not been.  But for them, it appeared
in all its purity.  They left space enough.
And in the space hollowed out by their love
it stood up all at once and didn't need

existence.  They nourished it, not with grain,
but with the mere possibility of being.
And finally this gave it so much power

that from its forehead a horn grew.  One horn.
It drew near to a virgin, white, gleaming---
and was, inside the mirror and in her.

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