Roman Fountain by Rainer Maria Rilke

translated by Len Krisak  (July 2014)


Two basins, one above the other, from

within an ancient rounded marble rand.

And from the top one, waters softly come,

spilling to waters under them that stand


and wait and meet their whispers, playing dumb.

Hidden, as in the hollow of a hand,

they show them sky behind the green and gloom,

like some strange object from a foreign land.


Calmly, within their lovely basin-shell,

they widen—never homesick—ring by ring,

and only sometimes, ping by dream-soft ping,


drop down the mossy scrim in single file

to reach that final mirror softening

the basin with its stone-transforming smile.

(The Fountain was located in the Borghese Gardens in Rome - ed.)


Len Krisak has published in The London Magazine, The Oxonian Review, PN Review, Standpoint, Agni, The Antioch Review, The Sewanee Review, The Hudson ReviewThe Dark Horse, Agenda, The Hopkins ReviewCommonweal, Literary Imagination, The Oxford Book of Poems on Classical Mythology, and others. His latest book is Virgil’s Eclogues, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. Forthcoming: The Carmina of Catullus, Carcanet Press, 2015, Afterimage, Measure Press, 2014, Rilke: New Poems, Boydell & Brewer, 2015 and Ovid: The Amores and The Ars Amatoria, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.



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