The Poet Speaks of Praising

              by Rainer Maria Rilke

Oh speak, poet, what do you do?

                                                  --I praise.

But the monstrosities and the murderous days,

how do you endure them, how do you take them?

                                                  --I praise.

But the anonymous, the nameless grays,

how, poet, do you still invoke them?

                                                   --I praise.

What right have you, in all displays,

in very mask, to be genuine?

                                                   --I praise.

And that the stillness and the turbulent sprays

know you like star and storm?

                                       :--because I praise.

                                      December, 1921

(from Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties, ed. and trans. by John J. L. Mood, Norton, 1975)