Snake Charming – Rainer Maria Rilke

One might consider this one of the most erotic poems ever penned. It’s perhaps not so obvious immediately. This particularly if you focus too much on those eyes instead of the effect of movements and ultimately, that certain being moved.

When the snake charmer at the market sways, 
tuning his flute's thrills and lulls,
he may perhaps lure a listener over
who leaves the busy tumult of the stalls,
enticed into the circle of the pipe
that wills and wills and wills:
to achieve the reptile's standing rigid in its basket,
it's flattering-down to let the stiffness give,
switching ever blinder,  ever dizzier,
from startling,  stretching, to its soft release
and then a look's enough:
you sense, infiltrating you,  an Indian strangeness
in which is death.
Descending skies seem to rush upon you incandescently.
A fault-line runs across your face.
Spices layer over your northern memory-
which cannot help you.  Strength cannot protect you the sun seethes, 
fever strikes and shakes,  
malicious glee readies its lances, 
watching the venom glinting in the snakes.

Rainer Maria Rilke

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