Extinguish Thou My Eyes

Extinguish Thou my eyes:I still can see Thee,
deprive my ears of sound:I still can hear Thee,
and without feet I still can come to Thee,
and without voice I still can call to Thee.

Sever my arms from me, I still will hold Thee
with all my heart as with a single hand,
arrest my heart, my brain will keep on beating,
and Should Thy fire at last my brain consume,
the flowing of my blood will carry Thee.


Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Comments (3)

Substituting periods for spaces (given the limitations of this site) we get: In the pathway of the sun, ...In the footsteps of the breeze, Where the world and sky are one, ...He shall ride the silver seas, ......He shall cut the glittering wave. I shall sit at home and rock; Rise, to heed a neighbor's knock; Brew my tea, and snip my thread; Bleach the linen for my bed. .........They will call him brave.
You need to get the indentations in place. The first four lines are set up so that they move forward from the left margin: In the pathway of the sun, In the footsteps of the breeze, Where the world and sky are one, He shall ride the silver seas, He shall cut the glittering wave. I shall sit at home and rock; Rise, to heed a neighbor's knock; Brew my tea, and snip my thread; Bleach the linen for my bed. They will call him brave. typesetting from Penguin's The Portable Dorothy Parker
I'm shocked that this rates only a 6. It's an unusual poem for Parker, but that's what makes it so outstanding. The use of the couplet which undermines the quatrains is absolutely classic as far as the sonnet form goes. The scansion is smooth in the first two quatrains and rough in the third, and instead of being one of Parker's attempts to be cynical or to use self-consciously false bravado, this poem comes across as honest, beautiful, and tragic. I think it's one of Parker's best.