translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Skarabäus’
And aren’t the stars almost right here as well?
What is there that you don’t embrace, since you
can’t even hold the scarab’s hardened shell—
carnelian kernel—without feeling too
the space that presses on the carapace
(and burdens you with all your blood can bear)?
There never was a nearer, milder space,
more gently yielding. It’s been resting there
five thousand years on beetles in its keeping,
where no one’s ruptured its accustomed state.
The scarabs shut themselves in; they are sleeping
beneath that space and all its cradling weight.
Len Krisak‘s books include complete translations of Virgil’s Eclogues and Horace’s Odes. With work in The Antioch Review, The Hudson Review, and The Sewanee Review, he is a four-time champion on Jeopardy!