In many countries a second lockdown in the middle of winter signals the severest challenge yet faced. In the UK the nurses and doctors in the NHS, already weary after a difficult year struggling against Covid 19, know that the rising number of admissions to hospital have not yet reached their peak. Our hopes that the vaccine will turn the tide could not be more fervent. In the coldest days of winter we think of death and re-birth. Here are two pieces by Rilke, the first four lines of Sonnet to Orpheus II, 13, and the third and final part of his poem O Lachrimosa.
Be ahead of all leaving as though it were behind you like the winter which is now relenting. For among winters there is one, which is so endless, that only by outwintering it does the heart survive. ------- /// ------- But the winters! Those secret meditations of the earth. Near the dead, in the pure withdrawal of sap courage gathers itself, the courage of future becoming. Where earth-thought is sprung beneath the chill, where the sequestered greenness of those great summers leans once more into the new wave and into the mirror of future feeling; and where the colour of flowers shakes off the old enchantment in our eyes.