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Rainer Maria Rilke: Hymn One

A poem a day
International WWI Poetry Month

Hymn One

Rainer Maria Rilke (France, 1914)

For the first time I see you rising,
Hearsaid, remote, incredible War God.
How very thickly terrible action has been sown
Among the peaceful fruits of the field, action suddenly grown to maturity.
Yesterday it was still small, needed nurture, now it is
Standing there tall as a man: tomorrow
It will outgrow man. For the glowing God
Will suddenly tear his crop
Out of the nation which gave it roots, and the harvest will begin.
At last a God. Since we were often no longer able to grasp
The peaceful God, the God of Battle suddenly grips us,
Hurling his brand: and over the heart full of homeland
Screams his crimson heaven in which, thunderous, he dwells.