William Ruleman

For The Kings of This World . . .
(by Rainer Maria Rilke; translated by
William Ruleman)

For the kings of this world, it is getting late.
Now none of them will have an heir.
Their sons died young and devil-may-care,
So they’ve dealt their daughters (pale, unfair)
The cracked and tarnished crowns of the state.

The rabble breaks them into coins
The trendy lord of the world purloins
To melt and shape for machines in the fire
Of his every sickly whim and desire.
And yet, in time, his luck will expire.

For the ore is homesick and wants to flee
The little coins and wheels and chains
That teach him to feel that life is small.
And out of bank and factory
He’ll find his way back into the veins
Of the vast and gouged-out mountain wall
That will shut and lock behind him.

Die Könige der Welt sind alt...

Die Könige der Welt sind alt
und werden keine Erben haben.
Die Söhne sterben schon als Knaben,
und ihre bleichen Töchter gaben
die kranken Kronen der Gewalt.
Der Pöbel bricht sie klein zu Geld,
der zeitgemäße Herr der Welt
dehnt sie im Feuer zu Maschinen,
die seinem Wollen grollend dienen;
aber das Glück ist nicht mit ihnen.
Das Erz hat Heimweh. Und verlassen
will es die Münzen und die Räder,
die es ein kleines Leben lehren.
Und aus Fabriken und aus Kassen
wird es zurück in das Geäder
der aufgetanen Berge kehren,
die sich verschließen hinter ihm.

William Ruleman © 2014

The Outlier


You tend to do things right;
I tend to do things wrong.
No remedy in sight
For one who can’t get along
With others as one should:
Ah, how can I be good?

I’ve tried to be a good boy—
Strained to shun the role
Of uncooperative killjoy—
Hurt to heal my soul,
Done the best I could:
Still, how can I be good?

I peer into the mirror
And see a look of hate;
What could be any clearer
Than seeing it’s too late
To hope I ever could
Succeed in being good?

Perhaps my case should show
That everyone who tries
To toe the line and flow
With the common flood soon dies
Inside, misunderstood
And held as no damned good.

Lines Written In Spain’s Baza National Park

Might what we shun as sentimentality
At times be simply refusal to sanction the cruel?
Embracing the world, we deign to accept the gruel
We down in deference to the mentality
That welcomes everyday banality
And merrily mounts the media’s dunce’s stool.
And would we rather play the fool
Than dare defy the world’s brutality?

Today I saw a falcon cramped in a cage
That barely left it room to peck its beak
Or rattle the ruthless wires with its curled-up claws.

The ire in its eyes betrayed my pent-up rage
With my day’s lust to know who’s tops this week
And who is caught in destiny’s playful paws.

William Ruleman © 2014