A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:
just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.
She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them. But all at once
as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.
by Rainer Maria Rilke
Rainer Maria Rilke was a poet and novelist born in 1875 in Prague, capital of Bohemia (then part of Austria-Hungary, now part of the Czech Republic). Before his death, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He died in 1926, in the Valmont Sanatorium in Switzerland.