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God in the Middle Ages

And they banked Him in their heads,
and would have him sit in state,
and they hung cathedrals on him
great in mass and great in weight –

to prevent his flight to heaven.
And he should from that time hence
wag the finger, keep the books,
counting, counting infinite pence,

and efficient like a clock
fix their tasks and set their times.

When he came he came like thunder.

At his voice they cowered under,
heard the engine of his chimes
and fled his dial face in shock.



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About the translation:
» Read translator's notes
Poet:
Rainer Maria Rilke
Translator:
Cameron Hawke Smith
Original language:
German
Issue:
2013 Number 1 - Strange Tracks

About the author

Rainer Maria Rilke

Original poet

Rainer Maria Rilke

René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926), better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohe... » Read more
Cameron Hawke Smith

Translator

Cameron Hawke Smith

Cameron Hawke Smith has a degree in Classics and some of his versions of Homer, Pindar, Horace, and also the Gaelic of Sorley...

» Read more

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