Being human: term for a flickering possession,
existence of a happiness still undemonstrated:
is it inhuman, that a pair of eyes
turned into this small densely woven piece of lace?
Do you want them back?
You, long since vanished and finally blind–
is all your human joy here inside this thing
where your huge feelings went, as between
stem and bark, miniaturized?
Through a tear in fate, a tiny interstice,
you absented your soul from its own time;
and it is so present here in this light
section of lace, it makes me smile at “usefulness.”
And if someday all we have done
and all that has happened to us
seems so inferior and strange,
as though there’d been no point
in taking the trouble to outgrow our first pair of shoes
just to come to this — … Shouldn’t this
strip of yellowed lace, this tightly meshed
flowery border of lace suffice
to keep us here? Look: this at least got done.
A life was ignored in the process, who knows.
A delight was there, was going to be sacrificed,
and finally at any cost
there would exist this thing, not easier than life
yet finished and so lovely, as though it weren’t too soon
to smile and soar.
Rilke, Rainer Maria. The Unknown Rilke . trans Franz Wright.
“Every life is, more or less, a ruin among whose debris we have to discover what the person ought to have been. This obliges us to construct for ourselves — as the physicist constructs his models — an imaginary life of the individual, the graph of his successful life. Upon which we then distribute the jags (they are sometimes enormous) which external destiny inflicted. We all feel our real life to be a deformation—sometimes greater, sometimes less—of our possible life. The second problem is to weigh the subject’s fidelity to this unique destiny of his, to his possible life. This permits us to determine the degree of authenticity of his actual life.”
(from Ortega y Gasset, The Dehumanization of Art )