Sometimes she walks through the village in her little red dress
all absorbed in restraining herself,
and yet, despite herself, she seems to move
according to the rhythm of her life to come.
She runs a bit, hesitates, stops,
half-turns around . . .
and, all the while dreaming, shakes her head
for or against.
Then she dances a few steps
that she invents and forgets,
no doubt finding out that life
moves on too fast.
It’s not so much that she steps out
of the small body enclosing her,
but that all she carries in herself
frolics and ferments.
It’s the dress that she’ll remember
later in a sweet surrender,
when her whole life is full of risks,
the little red dress will always seem right.
Translation by A. Poulin
From The Complete French Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke