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.

Evening Poetry, July 14

From The Book of a Monastic Life in Rilke’s Book of Hours.

I, 17

Because once someone dared

to want you,

I know that we, too, may want you.

When gold is in the mountain

and we’ve ravaged the depths

till we’ve given up digging,

It will be brought forth into day

by the river that mines

the silences of stone.

Even when we don’t desire it,

God is ripening.

Evening Poetry July 7

From The Book of a Monastic Life from Rilke’s Book of Hours.

I, 17

She who reconciles the ill-matched threads

of her life, and weaves them gratefully

into a single cloth–

it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall

and clears it for a different celebration

where the one guest is you.

In the softness of evening

it’s you she receives.

You are the partner of her loneliness,

the unspeakable center of her monologues.

With each disclosure you encompass more

and she stretches beyond what limits her,

to hold you.

Evening Poetry, June 30

The Last Supper

by Rainer Maria Rilke

They are assembled–astonished, panicked–

around him, who like a sage concludes himself

and who withdraws from those he’s gathered

and who ungraspable flows past them.

The old solitude comes over him,

which reared him for his deep action;

now he will wander through the olive woods again,

and those who love him will flee before him.

He has summoned them to the last meal

and (as a shot scatters birds from the wheat)

he scatters their hands from the loaves

with his word: they fly up to him;

they flap, terrified, all around the table

and seek a way out. But no use: he,

like a twilight hour, is everywhere.

You can find this poem in The Book of Images.

Evening Poetry, June 2

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.

I, 25

Evening Poetry, May 26

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.

I, 62