(Rainer Maria Rilke)
He went up under the gray leaves
All gray and lost in the olive lands
And laid his forehead, gray with dust,
Deep in the dustiness of his hot hands.
After everything this. And this was the end.
— Now I must go, as I am going blind.
And why is it Thy will that I must say
Thou art, when I myself no more can find Thee.
I find Thee no more. Not in me, no.
Not in others. Not in this stone,
I find Thee no more. I am alone.
I am alone with all men’s sorrow —
All that, through Thee, I thought to lighten,
Thou who art not, O nameless shame …
Men said, later: an angel came.
Why an angel? Alas, there came the night,
And leafed through the trees, indifferently.
The disciples moved a little in their dreams.
Why an angel? Alas, there came the night.
The night that came was no uncommon night:
So hundreds of nights go by.
There dogs sleep; there stones lie,
Alas a sorrowful, alas any night
That waits till once more it is morning.
For then beseech: the angels do not come,
Never do nights grow great around them.
Who lose themselves, all things let go;
They are renounced by their own fathers
And shut from their own mothers’ hearts.
This is so close to the original by Rilke, or at least to the translation by J B Leishman which I have long known and loved, that I do not think it should be called a poem by Randall Jarrell. The agony of Jesus in Gethsemane is taken beyond the biblical account, to the agony of doubting the very existence of God. Christ has been with us in the darkest hours we can possibly imagine.