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Old 09-16-2018, 09:50 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,515
Default Rilke, God in the Middle Ages

God in the Middle Ages

They had preserved Him in themselves, intent
on having him exist and arbitrate,
and (to prevent his heavenward ascent)
eventually they hung on him, like weights,

the heft and vastness of their great cathedrals.
And he was just to circle, pointing, through
the cycle of his endless numerals
and, like a clock, to furnish signals to

direct their doings and their daily work.
But suddenly he fully hit his stride,
and the people of the city, horror-struck,

left him going, fearful of his voice,
his inner clockworks hanging open wide,
and fled away before his dial’s face.


Gott im Mittelalter

Und sie hatten Ihn in sich erspart
und sie wollten, daß er sei und richte,
und sie hängten schließlich wie Gewichte
(zu verhindern seine Himmelfahrt)

an ihn ihrer großen Kathedralen
Last und Masse. Und er sollte nur
über seine grenzenlosen Zahlen
zeigend kreisen und wie eine Uhr

Zeichen geben ihrem Tun und Tagwerk.
Aber plötzlich kam er ganz in Gang,
und die Leute der entsetzten Stadt

ließen ihn, vor seiner Stimme bang,
weitergehn mit ausgehängtem Schlagwerk
und entflohn vor seinem Zifferblatt.


Literal translation:
God in the Middle Ages

And they had saved Him up within themselves,
and they wanted him to be and to judge,
and eventually they hung as weights on him
(to prevent his going to heaven)

the weight and bulk of their great cathedrals.
And he was only to circle, pointing,
across his limitless numbers
and like a clock to give

signals for their doings and daily work.
But suddenly he fully got going,
and the people of the horrified city,

frightened of his voice, left him
to carry on with his striking mechanism hanging open,
and fled before his dial’s face.
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