Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.
Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.
Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander on the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.
- Rainer Maria Rilke (trans: Stephen Mitchell)
This has to be one of the best things Rilke ever wrote. What I love about this poem (and about Mitchell's translation of it - for alternate translations, see here) is the bluntness, the uncomprising air of a stated fact. Rilke's autumn is no season of mist and mellow fruitfulness, it is the beginning of an end from which there is no appeal. The very abruptness of the lines here ("Herr: es ist Zeit."; "Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr. / Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben") makes this is a tough, almost brutal poem, a poem of barrenness, a premonition of the coming winter.