From Rilke’s Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke
I love you, gentlest of Ways,
who ripened us as we wrestled with you.
You, the great homesickness we could never shake off,
you, the forest that always surrounded us,
you, the song we sang in every silence,
you dark net threading through us,
You began yourself so greatly
on that day when you began us—
and we have so ripened in your sunlight,
spreading far and firmly planted–
that now in all people, angels, madonnas,
you can decide: the work is done.
Let your hand rest on the rim of Heaven now
and mutely bear the darkness we bring over you.
This poem can be found in The Book of a Monastic Life in Rilke’s Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke.
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 dark hands.
(From Book of Pilgrimage in Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God by Rainer Maria Rilke)
In deep nights I dig for you like treasure.
For all I have seen
that clutters the surface of my world
is poor and paltry substitute
for the beauty of you
that has not happened yet…
My hands are bloody from digging.
I lift them, hold them open in the wind,
so they can branch like a tree.
Reaching, these hands would pull you out of the sky
as if you had shattered there,
dashed yourself to pieces in some wild impatience.
What is this I feel falling now,
falling on this parched earth,
like a spring rain?
The Book of a Monastic Life: I,2
by Rainer Maria Rilke
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
You can find this poem and more in Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy.