The Man Watching (II)

What we triumph over is so small,
and the victory makes us small too.
The eternal and uncommon
refuses to be bent by us.
Like the angel who appeared
to the wrestler in the Old Testament:
when his opponent’s sinews
grow hard as metal in the struggle,
they feel to his fingers like strings
on which to play a depthless melody.

Whoever is conquered by this angel
when the angel does not refuse to fight
walks away erect and ennobled,
strengthened by that fierce hand
that, like a sculptor’s, shaped him.
Winning does not tempt that man.
His growth is this: to be defeated
by ever greater forces.

— Rilke, Book of Images

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s