"Variation On The Word Sleep"
I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head
and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear
I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and as you enter
it as easily as breathing in
I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.
RAINER MARIA RILKE
"To Say For Going To Sleep"
I would like to sing someone to sleep,
by someone to sit and be,
I would like to rock you and croon you to sleep
and attend you in slumber and out.
I would like to be the only one in the house
who would know: The night was cold.
And you would like to hearken within and without
to you, to the world, to the woods,—
The clocks call striking to each other,
and one sees to the bottom of time.
And below a strange man passes yet
and rouses a strange dog.
Behind that comes stillness. I have laid
my eyes upon you wide;
they hold you gently and let you go
when something stirs in the dark.
Translated by M.D. Hester Norton