Once Here

Why, then, do we have to be human
and keep running from the fate
we long for?

Oh, not because of such a thing as happiness —
that fleeting gift before loss begins.
Not from curiosity, or to exercise the heart. . . .
But because simply to be here is so much
and because what is here seems to need us,
this vanishing world that concerns us strangely —
us, the most vanishing of all. Once
for each, only once. Once and no more.
And we too: just once. Never again. But
to have lived even once,
to have been of Earth — that cannot be taken from us.

— Rilke, From the Ninth Duino Elegy

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