Yesterday you were a boy,
today blind passion makes your blood swell.
You do not mean to seek lust but joy;
you have been chosen as a groom
whose desire is only for his bride.
But the spirit of lust pulls at you,
even ordinary arms suggest nakedness.
Even pale cheeks on pious paintings
blush with strange appeal.
Desire twists like a snake,
rising to the beat of the tambourine.
Suddenly you are left alone
with hands that will betray you
unless your will delivers a miracle.
But news from God comes
rushing through dark alleys
into your heart.
Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours, I, 38
translation by Martina Nagel, illustration by Denise Louise Klitsie, from Praying the Hours in Ordinary Life, by Lauralee Farrer and Clay Schmidt (Cascade Books, 2010)