Spring has come back again. The earth
is like a child who has memorized
poems, oh, many! . . . now it seems worth
the effort, for she wins the prize.
Her teacher was strict. We loved the white
hair of the old man’s beard.
When we ask what the green and the blue are, right
off she knows every word.
Lucky earth, with your holiday,
and all the children coming to play!
We try to catch you. The gayest will do it.
Teacher trained her until she knew it,
and all that’s printed in roots and long
unruly stems she sings in song.
About the poet
Rainer Maria Rilke is considered to be one of the greatest German-language poets of the early 20th century, although he was born in Prague (1875), died in Switzerland (1926), called Russia his spiritual homeland, and even lived in France as a secretary to the sculptor Rodin, writes Allie Esiri. It was in Russia where Rilke began to view poetry as a transcendent, almost religious, force. His intensely lyrical works serve as a bridge between classicism and modernism, focusing on crises of belief and natural order. It was arguably this awakening that encouraged him towards writing such sublime poems as this celebration of spring. Written in 1922 as part of a 55-sonnet cycle, the poem is characteristic of Rilke’s exploration of the relationship between the transient world of humanity and the eternal power of nature.
FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival
Allie Esiri’s new anthology ‘A Poet for Every Day of the Year’ is published by Pan Macmillan. She will presenting ‘Poetry for Every Day of the Year’ with Natascha McElhone, Ronni Ancona and Mark Quartley at the Sheldonian Theatre on Sunday, March 27 at 4pm as part of the Oxford Literary Festival