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AUTUMN DAY

from the Ger­man of Rainer Marie Rilke) (Herbstag)

Lord, it’s time. Great sum­mer now must yield.
Cast your shade across the gnomon’s shade
and loose your winds across the dark­ened field.

What grapes remain unripened on the vine,
afford them two more days of south­ern heat,
urge them to per­fec­tion. Let their sweet
essence mel­low the harsh­ness of the wine.

The home­less now will never have a home.
Those who are alone will stay that way,
awake, com­pos­ing let­ters night and day,
and through the rest­less thor­ough­fares will roam
back and forth, as leaves of autumn may.

(orig­i­nally pub­lished in String Poet, Vol­ume III, Issue 1, Sum­mer 2013)