This is an English translation of the poem by Rainer Maria Rilke quoted by Hannah Arendt on her chapter “The Concept of History: Ancient and Modern.”
Odd, the words: ‘while away the time’.
How to hold it fast the harder thing.
Who is not fearful: where is there a staying,
where in all this is there any being?
Look, as the day slows towards the space
that draws it into dusk: rising became
upstanding, standing a laying down, and then
that which accepts its lying blurs to darkness.
Mountains rest, outgloried by the stars –
but even there, time’s transition glimmers.
Ah, nightly refuged in my wild heart,
roofless, the imperishable lingers.