In Vino Veritas 

 

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Photo: WHB – Devon 2019  . . .  ©

In Vino Veritas

Truth …  
In wine? 
Pull the other one. 
Stick it on me, babe 
I’ll believe it when I feel it 
 
Next you’ll be persuading me 
Love is blind 
When everyone knows 
However fickle 
It’s in the beholder’s ken 
The plaything of their whim 
Their only hope for the future 
 
Then 
You’ll be saying 
Time flies 
When we all know  
It sinks and swims 
Runs and stutters 
Can’t make its mind up 
Whether to be patient 
Or restive 
Anxious or unhurried 
 
And as for 
Life being for living 
Non sequiturs 
Don’t come better than that 
Its for laughing 
For crying 
But…. 
Above all it’s for dying 
For returning to the earth which spawned us 
For calling time on the pain of living 
 
For …  
And this we must remember …  
As the old song goes 
You can’t have one without the other. 
 
Sic transit gloria mundi 

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Rainer Maria Rilke – ‘The Swan’

(No.66 of my favourite short poems)

Swan

‘The Swan’ – WHB Pen & Wash – 2017

The Swan

This labouring of ours with all that remains undone, 
as if still bound to it, 
is like the lumbering gait of the swan. 

And then our dying—releasing ourselves 
from the very ground on which we stood— 
is like the way he hesitantly lowers himself 

into the water. It gently receives him, 
and, gladly yielding, flows back beneath him, 
as wave follows wave, 
while he, now wholly serene and sure, 
with regal composure, 
allows himself to glide. 

 

By RAINER MARIA RILKE
… Translation from the German by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

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I have previously commented on one of Rilke’s poem ‘The Panther’ (q.v.).  In this poem, The Swan’, Rilke connects the awkward way the swan has of moving on land with its smooth, gliding motions as soon as it enters the water.  It is then, with forthright simile, he references the move for the swan, as for we human beings, from the uncertainties and incomplete nature of our lives to a calm acceptance of death.  This seems to me to present a positive view of what death can bring, with the release from earthly tensions into the calm and sure serenity of the after life.

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