Kunst: Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sankt Sebastian

Guido Reni Sebastian 2

Wie ein Liegender so steht er; ganz

hingehalten von dem großen Willen.

Weitentrückt wie Mütter, wenn sie stillen,

und in sich gebunden wie ein Kranz.

*

Und die Pfeile kommen: jetzt und jetzt

und als sprängen sie aus seinen Lenden,

eisern bebend mit den freien Enden.

Doch er lächelt dunkel, unverletzt.

*

Einmal nur wird eine Trauer groß,

und die Augen liegen schmerzlich bloß,

bis sie etwas leugnen, wie Geringes,

und als ließen sie verächtlich los

die Vernichter eines schönen Dinges.

 

Saint Sebastian

So he stands like someone lying down; fully

held back by his great will.

Distanced, reveried, as mothers when they nurse,

and bound into himself like a ring.

*

And the arrows come: now and now

as if they sprang from his own loins,

iron-quaking with their free ends.

Still he smiles darkly, not yet wounded.

*

Only once is his sorrow great,

his eyes laid bare in pain

until they deny something slight and mean,

as if they scornfully set free

the annihilators of a beautiful thing.

 Rilke_Signature

_______________________

A lovely and disturbing poem. [Poor] translation my own. Painting from Guido Reni. More to come later on St. Sebastian and Death in Venice.

3 thoughts on “Kunst: Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sankt Sebastian

    • I rather think that Rilke had in mind Saint Sebastian from Sandro Botticelli, whom you can vision as “lying down”. The bound raised arms of Gudi Reni’s Sebastian contradict the “lying down” principle. The original of Botticelli’s Saint Sebastian is located in the Alter Gemäldegalerie Berlin. I’m going there again in May 2016.

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