These leaves are like the last vestige of green
you find in dye-pots, rough and dull and dry,
behind some blossom-clusters wearing blue
that's not their own, mirrored from far away.
They mirror it vaguely and tearfully,
as if they secretly wished it gone again;
and just like old blue stationery, they
have yellow tints, and violets and grays;
as faded as a much-washed child's apron
no longer used, with nothing else to happen:
you feel how short the little life has been.
Then all at once the blue seems to renew
in one of the clusters, and you see how
a touching blue delights itself in green.
--Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by David Young
Copyright c 1994 by Oberlin College. May not be
reproduced without permission.