Fragment of an Elegy by Rainer Maria Rilke Now shall I praise the cities, those long-surviving (I watched them in awe) great constellations of earth. for only in praising is my heart still mine, so violently do I know the world. And even my lament turns into a paean before my disconsolate heart. Let no one say that I don’t love life, the eternal presence: I pulsate in her; she bears me, she gives me the spaciousness of this day, the primeval workday for me to make use of, and over my existence flings, in her magnanimity, nights that have never been. Her strong hand is above me, and if she should hold me under, submerged in fate, I would have to learn how to breathe down there. Even her most lightly-entrusted mission would fill me with songs of her; although I suspect that all she wants is for me to be vibrant as she is. Once poets resounded over the battlefield; what voice can outshout the rattle of this metallic age that is struggling on toward its careening future? And indeed it hardly requires the call, its own battle-din roars into song. So, let me stand for a while in front of the transient: not accusing, but once again admiring, marvelling. And if perhaps something founders before my eyes and stirs me into lament, it is not a reproach. Why shouldn’t more youthful nations rush past the graveyard of cultures long ago rotten? How pitiful it would be if greatness needed the slightest indulgence. Let him whose soul is no longer startled and transformed by palaces, by gardens’ boldness, by the rising and falling of ancient fountains, by everything held back in paintings or by the infinite thereness of statues - let such a person go out to his daily work, where greatness is lying in ambush and someday, at some turn, will leap upon him and force him to fight for his life.
I am fighting!