“The last house” by Rilke

From the Book of Hours

The last house of this village stands
as alone as if it were the last house in the world.

The road, that the little village cannot hold,
moves on slowly out into the night.

The little village is but a place of transition,
expectant and afraid, between two vast distances,
a passageway along houses instead of a bridge.

And those who leave the village may wander
a long time, and many may die perhaps
along the way.

Rainer Maria Rilke
from The Book of Hours

(tr. Cliff Crego)

One of the most “visual” of Rilke’s poems.The imagery is almost photographic. Just imagine a village,a path that goes through a village ,a road that the village cannot “hold” but only eject it into the night,the last house standing on the edge of the village as if it were the last house in the world. The little village continues to function as the transition point between two vast distances ,just like any other village,a passageway along houses.The village is expectant because it is expecting visitors but at the some time afraid that the people who leave the village may wander and may not return.