Trial by fire?

Self-portrait 2011

Rilke: After the Fire (1908)

Early autumn morning hesitated,
Shying at newness, an emptiness behind
Scorched linden trees still crowding in around
The moorland house, now just one more wallstead

Where youngsters in a pack from god knows where
Went rip-roaring wild and yelled and wrecked.
Yet all of them fell silent when he appeared,
The son of the place, and with a long forked stick

Dragged an out of shape old can or kettle
From under hot, charred, half-consumed house-beams;
And then, like one with a doubtful tale to tell,
Turned to the others present, at great pains

To make them realise what had stood so.
For now that it was gone, it all seemed
Far stranger: more fantastical than Pharaoh.
And he was changed: as from a far-off land.

(tr. Seamus Heaney 2006)

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