The poem of Rainer Maria Rilke in Encounter (episode 5)

Will Dir den Frühling zeigen

Will dir den Frühling zeigen,
der hundert Wunder hat.
Der Frühling ist waldeigen
und kommt nicht in die Stadt.

Nur die weit aus den kalten
Gassen zu zweien gehn
und sich bei den Händen halten –
dürfen ihn einmal sehn.

– Rainer Maria Rilke 1875-1926 –

Want to show you spring 

Want to show you spring,

that has hundred miracles.
The spring lives in the woods
and doesn’t come to town.

Only the ones who far from 
cold alleys walk in pairs
and hold hands –
may see it once.

Okay, this is my own translation. The problem I had is that first “waldeigen” is a word created by Rainer Maria Rilke and secondly I tried to keep the structure of this poem. Waldeigen means belong to the woods/forest. You might not know but German is a very creative language, you can create your own words because it is possible to put two words together. Yet people will understand what you mean.

What caught my attention is the following. Spring is connected to nature (“woods/waldeigen”), contrasts with modern life and civilization (town). And this fits our OTP. KJH represents nature due to different associations (sun, green grape, wind). Hence for the poet love is a natural phenomenon, however he doesn’t just outline that only people in love are feeling and seeing the spring, the two persons have to be active. If you pay attention to the title (want to show you spring), it is an invitation to fall in love. One is active in his courting. You have to leave the room and walk in the streets with your loved one to experience it. And that’s why we see our OTP walking in the cold streets (episode 6, 14 and 16). They actually do what Rilker described. They don’t feel the coldness of the winter as their love warms them up.

Moreover, the verse 3 and 4 clearly shows that love is to be found in the nature… hence leaving the town and going to the woods can lead you to find love. It looks like that for Rilke, love is not a state but a process… And KJH acts exactly like the person in this poem (want to show you spring). He keeps asking for CSH’s acceptance to love him and to fall in love with him. Besides, we clearly saw that KJH was proactive in his pursuit. He used his hands and his cellphone to get closer to her.

Interesting is that the subject in the title is missing: either it is “I”/”ich” or he/she “Er/sie”. I chose the first person because it becomes more personal and direct. Yet, it could be “Wants to show you spring”. I pointed it out because I wanted you to understand why I chose it this way. Besides, my own translation is not perfect, quite far from it and someone could claim that it is different. 

Another observation is the contrast between hundred miracles and once. In my opinion, the poet could be referring to the uniqueness of love. Real true love can only be found once, but we have many people who can experience the same “spring” hence we have hundred miracles. And CSH was the one who kept mentioning her love as a miracle. Spring indicates that there will be changes in the persons who are in love, because spring announces the appearance of new leaves, new flowers aso. Something new and beautiful will surface, like a rebirth which can be connected to CSH’s awakening.

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