Evening Poetry, October 13

from The Book of a Monastic Life

I, 18

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Why am I reaching again for the brushes?

When I paint your portrait, God,

nothing happens.

But I can choose to feel you.

At my senses’ horizon

you appear hesitantly,

like scattered islands

Yet standing here, peering out,

I’m all the time seen by you.

The choruses of ages use up all of heaven.

There’s no more room for you

in all that glory. You’re living

in your very last house.

All creation holds its breath, listening within me,

because, to hear you, I keep silent.

You can find this poem in Rilke’s Book of Hours.

Evening Poetry, October 8

From The Book of a Monastic Life

I, II

by Rainer Maria Rilke

You darkness, of whom I am born–

I love you more than the flame

that limits the world

to the circle it illumines

and excludes all the rest.

But the dark embraces everything:

shapes and shadows, creatures and me.

people, nations–just as they are.

It lets me imagine

a great presence stirring beside me.

I believe in the night.

You can find this poem in Rilke’s Book of Hours.

Evening Poetry, September 22

I, 62

by Rainer Maria Rilke

(from The Book of a Monastic Life)

Only as a child am I awake

and able to trust

that after every fear and every night

I will behold you again.

However often I get lost,

however far my thinking strays,

I know you will be here, right here,

time trembling around you.

To me it is as if I were at once

infant, boy, man, and more.

I feel that only as it circles

is abundance found.

I thank you, deep power

that works me ever more lightly

in ways I can’t make out.

The day’s labor grows simple now,

and like a holy face

held in my hands.

You can find this poem in Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God.

Evening Poetry, September 17

The Solitary

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Like one who’s voyaged over foreign oceans

am I among these eternally at home;

the full days stand dumbly on their tables,

but to me the far-off is full of dream.

Deep inside my face a world reaches,

which perhaps is uninhabited like a moon;

but they leave no feeling to itself,

and all their words have long been lived in.

The things I brought with me from far away

appear outlandish, compared with theirs–:

in their great homeland they were wild animals,

here they hold their breath out of shame.

You can find this poem in The Book of Images.

Evening Poetry, September 6

This is a poem found in The Book of a Monastic Life from Rilke’s Book of Hours.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

I,5

I love the dark hours of my being.

My mind deepens into them.

There I can find, as in old letters,

the days of my life, already lived,

and held like a legend, and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open

to another life that’s wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree

rustling over a gravesite

and making real the dream

of the one its living roots

embrace:

a dream once lost

among sorrows and songs.

You can find this in Rilke’s Book of Hours.

Evening Poetry, August 18

You can find this in The Book of a Monastic Life in Rilke’s Book of Hours.

I,6

by Rainer Maria Rilke

You, God, who live next door–

If at times, through the long night, I trouble you

with my urgent knocking–

this is why: I hear you breathe so seldom.

I know you’re all alone in that room.

If you should be thirsty, there’s no one

to get you a glass of water.

I wait listening, always. Just give me a sign!

I’m right here.

As it happens, the wall between us

is very thin. Why couldn’t a cry

from one of us

break it down? It would crumble

easily.

it would barely make a sound.

Evening Poetry, July 21

You can find this poem in The Book of A Monastic Life in Rilke’s Book of Hours.

I,51

Only in our doing can we grasp you.

Only with our hands can we illuminate you.

The mind is but a visitor:

it thinks us out of our world.

Each mind fabricates itself.

We sense its limits, for we have made them.

And just when we would flee them, you come

and make yourself an offering.

I don’t want to think a place for you.

Speak to me from everywhere.

Your Gospel can be comprehended

without looking for its source.

When I go toward you

it is with my whole life.