Portrait Of My Father As A Young Man

In the eyes: dream. The brow as if it could feel
something far off. Around the lips, a great
freshness--seductive, though there is no smile.
Under the rows of ornamental braid
on the slim Imperial officer's uniform:
the saber's basket-hilt. Both hands stay
folded upon it, going nowhere, calm
and now almost invisible, as if they
were the first to grasp the distance and dissolve.
And all the rest so curtained within itself,
so cloudy, that I cannot understand
this figure as it fades into the background--.

Oh quickly disappearing photograph
in my more slowly disappearing hand.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

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