Evening Poetry, November 3

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 ungraspably 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: Poems / Revised Bilingual Edition (English and German Edition)""“>The Book of Images.

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, 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.