Jul 11, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Revisiting the Unicorn and a poem from Scottish poet Don Paterson

Thank you to  Linda at Write Time for hosting Poetry Friday today!
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About a year ago, I posted one of my favorite excerpts from Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus. The poem, which is about a unicorn, begins like this:

O this is the beast who does not exist.
They didn't know that, and in any case
--with its stance, its arched neck and easy grace,
the light of its limpid gaze --they could not resist
but loved it though, indeed, it was not.
From Sonnets to Orpheus II, 4 by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926 ), translated by Robert Hunter, 1993.
You can read more of this post here.
For a “beast who does not exist,” the unicorn has certainly captivated the hearts and imaginations of legions over the years. Growing up, I was fascinated by the idea of unicorns, and I still have a soft spot for these beautiful, elusive creatures. In my research this week, I came upon a lovely adaptation of Rilke’s poem by Scottish poet Don Paterson. A jazz-musician-turned-poet, Patterson’s take on Rilke’s poem sings for me. I hope you enjoy it, too!

by Don Paterson (1963- )
This is the animal that never was.
Not knowing that, they loved it anyway;
its bearing, its stride, its high, clear whinny,
right down to the still light of its gaze.
Please click here and read the rest of this poem. 
To learn more about Don Paterson, click here.

It is always a pleasure to come across poetry that resonates on a personal and artistic level. What poems “sing” for you?

Happy Friday, and Happy Writing!


  1. They fed it with the chance that it might come to pass ... lovely!

    I have heard that unicorn stories might have started when people saw rhinos, narwhals, or oryx (and that dragon myths might also have originated from real creatures). Interesting to think about!

  2. I especially love the unicorn poem! My granddaughter has a stuffed unicorn she carries everywhere with her. Thanks for this lovely reminder.

  3. Imaginary beasts draw us into worlds of wonder, don't they?

  4. I love how he took that jazz talent of improvisation to make this poem his own! A great find, Becky.

  5. Magical offering this week, Becky - thanks! And just about any Rilke poem sings to me... ;0)


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