Rainer Maria Rilke: Archaic Torso of Apollo

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We did not know his head of such unheard-of fame
wherein the orbéd eyes matured. Even so,
his torso, candelabrum-like, still is aglow,
and there his gazing, merely set low-flame,

persists and glitters. For otherwise the incurvation
of the chest could never so bedazzle you, nor indeed,
could from the loins’ soft turning a smile proceed
to that midpoint which once bore procreation.

Otherwise this stone tortured and squat would stand
beneath the shoulders’ lucent sweep, and
would not shimmer like a coat of sable;

nor would it burst forth from all its margins, rife
with the light of stars: for there is not one site unable
to perceive you. You have to change your life.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Thomas Geydan. Translation copyright © 2008 by Thomas Geydan, published here with the translator’s kind permission.

Also in Thomas Geydan's translation: Spanish Dancer

An interesting link about translating Rilke ("Rilke translation has become an industry...")

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