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

Evening Poetry, May 19

(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,

softly,

like a spring rain?

II, 34

Evening Poetry, May 6

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.