Song of the Little Cripple at the Street Corner

By Rainer Maria Rilke 1875–1926

Translated By David Ferry Read the translator's notes

Maybe my soul’s all right.   
But my body’s all wrong,   
All bent and twisted,   
All this that hurts me so.   

My soul keeps trying, trying   
To straighten my body up.   
It hangs on my skeleton, frantic,   
Flapping its terrified wings.   

Look here, look at my hands,   
They look like little wet toads   
After a rainstorm’s over,   
Hopping, hopping, hopping.   

Maybe God didn’t like   
The look of my face when He saw it.   
Sometimes a big dog   
Looks right into it.

Source: Poetry (April 2006).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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April 2006
 Rainer Maria Rilke


Widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets, Rainer Maria Rilke was unique in his efforts to expand the realm of poetry through new uses of syntax and imagery and in the philosophy that his poems explored. With regard to the former, W. H. Auden declared in New Republic, "Rilke's most immediate and obvious influence has been upon diction and imagery." Rilke expressed ideas with "physical rather . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Faith & Doubt, Religion, Health & Illness, Living, Disappointment & Failure, God & the Divine


Poetic Terms Dramatic Monologue, Persona

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