Dusk

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Going Blind by Rainer Maria Rilke  (1918) (First translation)

She sat just like the others at the table.
But on second glance, she seemed to hold her cup
a little differently as she picked it up.
She smiled once. It was almost painful.

And when they finished and it was time to stand
and slowly, as chance selected them, they left
and moved through many rooms (they talked and laughed),
I saw her. She was moving far behind

the others, absorbed, like someone who will soon
have to sing before a large assembly;
upon her eyes, which were radiant with joy,
light played as on the surface of a pool.

She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though there were some obstacle in the way;
and yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly.

(Second translation)

Among all the others there sat a guest
Who sipped her tea as if one apart,
And she held her cup not quite like the rest;
Once she smiled so it pierced one’s heart.

When the group of people arose at last
And laughed and talked in a merry tone,
As lingeringly through the rooms they passed
I saw that she followed alone.

Tense and still like one who to sing must rise
Before a throng on a festal night
She lifted her head, and her bright glad eyes
Were like pools which reflected light.

She followed on slowly after the last
As though some object must be passed by,
And yet as if were it once but passed
She would no longer walk but fly.