Long before our time they called her old,
But she'd walk down the same road every day.
Her age became too much to say
In years and, like a forest's, would be told
In centuries. She comes to stand at dusk
Her spot each time the same and to foretell.
She is a hollow, wrinkled husk,
Dark as a fire-gutted citadel.
She has to turn her flock of talking loose
Or it will grow too crowded to relieve.
Flapping and screaming, words are flying all
Around her. Then, returning home to roost,
They find a perch beneath her eyebrows' eaves,
And in that shadow wait for night to fall.
~ From the German of Rainer Maria Rilke. This translation copyright © 1998, 2001 by Leonard Cottrell.