A Doge by Rainer Maria Rilke

translated by Len Krisak (March 2014)


Ambassadors could see the stingy way

they treated him and all he did.

While they were spurring him to greatness, they

hid spies about his golden throne, and bid


them, more and more, check his authority

(they were afraid the power with which they fed


grew great, all unaware, and never stopped.


to them, he conquered in himself instead,

his inmost being. In his greying head,

he beat them. And his face showed how.



Portrait of Doge Leonardo Lorendan by Giovanni Bellini.

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