Classic and Contemporary Poetry
WE ARE ALL WORKMEN, by RAINER MARIA RILKE Poet's Biography
First Line: We are all workmen: prentice, journeyman
Last Line: God, you are vast.
Subject(s): Labor & Laborers; Work; Workers
We are all workmen: prentice, journeyman,
or master,building you, you lofty nave.
Sometimes an earnest traveler comes to scan
our labor, whose help is a wind to fan
our souls, as sunlight on the architrave.
Upon the rocking scaffolding we rise,
the hammers in our hands swing heavily,
until a gracious hour hither flies,
whose radiance is wonderful and wise,
hailing from you as wind hails from the sea.
Then many hammers echo south and north,
and on the heights their throb is like a blast.
Only with dusk we yield you up at last:
And see your shaping contours shadowed forth.
God, you are vast.
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