For Rudolph Kassner With all its eyes the creaturely sees the open. But our eyes are as if reversed and placed all round it like snares ringing its free departure. What is outside, we know from the beast’s face only: for we turn around the early child and force it to see formation backwards, not the open, which is so deep in beastsight. Free from death. Only we see death; the free beast has its going down behind it and before it god, and when it goes, goes into eternity, like a running spring. We have never, not for a single day, the pure space before us, in which flowers unendingly burst open. It is always world and never nowhere without no: that pureness, that unwatched, which one breathes and endlessly knows and never wants. But a child might lose himself inside the quiet and become shaken. Or someone dies and is. For near to death one sees that death no more and stares ahead, perhaps with a beast’s huge glance. Lovers, were not the other barring sight, are nearby, astounded . . . As if in error one is lifted behind the other. But beyond him nothing emerges, and world returns. The universe is always empathetic, we see there only reflections of freedom darkened by us. Or an animal’s dumb glance, silent through and through. These rule destiny: to be opposite and nothing else and always opposite. Were the awareness of our species in the sure beast, which pulls towards us from another direction - , it would drag us into its mutability. But for the beast its being is unending, unprepared, and without insight of its belonging, pure, like its outward glance. And where we see future, there it sees all and itself in all and healed for always. And yet in the wakeful warm animal is the weight and sorrow of a huge dejection. For it also clings to what often overwhelms us, - a memory, that what we thrust after, was formerly nearer, truer and its connection endlessly tender. Here all is distance, and there was breath. After the first home the second is ambiguous and windy. O bliss of tiny creatures which remain always in the womb which carries them; o happiness of the gnat, which still hops within, even on its wedding: for womb is all. And see the half assurance of a bird, which almost knows both through its origin, as if it were one of those Etruscan souls received by space out of a corpse whose silent figure is its lid. And how dismayed is one which must fly out of its native womb. As if it is afraid of itself, it zigzags through the air, like a crack running through a cup. So the track of a bat rends through the porcelain evening. And we: onlookers, always, over all, interested in everything, and never looking out! Overfills us. We order. It decays. We order again and ourselves decay. Who turned us thus around, so we, no matter what, have the pose of one who is departing? As he who on the last hill which still shows his whole valley, will turn, halt, pause -, so we live, forever taking leave.
Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Alison Croggon