Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 11, 2013

Rilke Has A Poem For Antinous!

As you know, I’m always on the lookout for further poems and such involving Antinous, and by chance (and random internet wanderings), I just found another one.

Rainer Maria Rilke is a favorite poet of many people, though I’ve not read much by him–I was given Letters to a Young Poet before going away to college by one of my favorite high school teachers, and did read it, but it’s been almost twenty years; and in the intervening time, I’ve read at least a few of his poems at various stages.

But, he had one for Antinous! It’s in the voice of Hadrian, not surprisingly…

Lament for Antinoüs

None of you knew him at all, the Bithynian lad
(none intervened in his fate, none delivered him from it)
Certainly I doted on him. I spoiled him: what of it?
We all laid our burdens upon him and left his life marred.

Who knows the secret of love? Anyone? No-one.
Endless calamity grew from my failure.
Now from among all the gods of the Nile, all its guardians,
I can no longer distinguish him, cannot draw near.

Why did you send him so far to the stars in the heavens?
Were you insane? Now I must press you and question:
Is it that one? Better for him to be dead; then
he might have escaped this. It need not have been.


So, the question is: should he be a Sanctus, as all the other poets who have written poems for Antinous have been? (And he’s an odd one at that, because he’s one of few who wasn’t homoerotically inclined…but perhaps all the more remarkable for that!)


  1. […] Rilke Has A Poem For Antinous! […]

  2. I think he’d be an appropriate candidate. He’s one of my favorites, but I never knew about this poem, so happy you shared it.Just this Sunday I attended a salon where a poet/translator shared some new Rilke translations.

    • I’m rather surprised by all of this as well…Rilke isn’t exactly a “small name” in poetry; but then again, since he’s not queer, and not one of the Uranian Poets, I suspect everyone who has written about Antinous in poetry of the last 200 years (i.e. both of them, as it’s not a popular topic) has just not gone down that road. Alas…

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