Jim Harrison likes to quote Rilke's "Beware, o wanderer, the road is walking too."

Does anybody know where it comes from?


In "Conversations with Jim Harrison", Harrison said (link):

"I had to speak at Sam Lawrence's memorial service in New York and I was flipping through books again. Stephen Mitchell's translation of the Duino Elegies. At the end there are what show business calls "out takes", intended lines that Rilke didn't use. I said one at the memorial service: "Beware, o wanderer, the road is walking too."

Conversations with Jim Harrison, pg. 134.

Looking in Stephen Mitchell's translation, the lines are actually a bit different (link):

"Protect yourself better

protect yourself wanderer

with the road that is walking too"

The Duino Elegies & The Sonnets to Orpheus: A Dual Language Edition, pg. 215

So it seems that Harrison, being a poet, made them more poetic. The German original lines are:

Wahre dich besser

wahre dich Wandrer

mit dem selber auch gehenden Weg

Rilke wrote them on 1922, at the time he was staying at Château de Muzot, writing "Sonnets to Orpheus" and completing the "Duino Elegies".

  • Thanks for including the German!
    – DukeZhou
    May 3 '18 at 21:00

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