Love 1: Unrequited Love

Seriously:  where do the self-tortures of Sapiens end? 


Not my love for Rilke nor the elegaic beauty of this poem persuade me that unrequited love is worth one second of a life. 


 This, of course, is a particular kind of unrequited love because the poet does not know his Beloved. 


And so I take it that this poem in its widest sense may be an expression of the poet’s love for the world.

So vast is the world.  We cannot experience it all.








You Who Never Arrived

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875-1926, Austrian

Translated by Stephen Mitchell





You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.





You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house– , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening.






Blue Mountain Horses, 1984, painted ceramic sculpture, and detail.  Rudy Autio, 1926-2007, American. 

Included in Oliver Beer’s Vessel Orchestra at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY in 2019















3 thoughts on “Love 1: Unrequited Love

  1. Hello, Sarah. I’ve been meaning to come back and comment after ‘liking’ this the other day. The poem struck quite a deep chord. It reminded me of my teenage years, and sometimes in dreams in later life, when there was a visceral sense of a lost soul mate. Someone who was supposed to be there for you, but is not to be found, though they may often leave a sense of having been and gone. I have no explanation for any of this.Strange territory the human psyche.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Tish.

      I’d like to say that I know what you mean because we grew up with the expectation of a soul mate.

      But now I see that that could not be because souls do not have mates.

      The soul seems now, to me, to be a creature which lives in each of us, separately, and lives for us. Actually, it may well be that it is this soul which is our mate. It doesn’t like the light, it will flee with noise; it is said to like warm damp. And if we don’t listen to it, we jeopardize ourselves.

      But it is the creature which – except under extraordinarily difficult circumstances – makes you live, Survive through thick and thin.

      I wonder if this is in any way familiar to you?

      This interpretation seems to descend from Jung. In this schema, the spirit is a function of our entire species and always is looking for the light and for our spiritual progress. But the soul is individual by individual. And can be muted and suppressed by us.

      Which is a comfort to me , and hopefully to you, because the disorders have grown really huge both sides of our pond here and mutants are actually in positions of power! Soul-mutants, I mean.

      On a separate issue, you might, if you have not seen it, like the story of the Monarch Butterfly, an all-American creature and magnificent!


      1. Your thoughts about spirit and soul are very fascinating. I have come across this tripartite view of ‘self’ and beingness in traditional East African beliefs. Not quite got to grips with them as yet, though it relates to a piece of fiction I’ve been struggling with.

        Soul-mutants, now that is a term to conjure with, and so apt. The world-and-people wreckers.

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