21 December 2009

you will know it by its seriousness.

for several years i've had an intense and yet far-off appreciation of rainer maria rilke. i read his "letters to a young poet" and practically underlined everything - wowed by the simple language that somehow housed a myriad of thoughts and feelings i thought were beyond words. for some reason i didn't follow my normal extreme of hunting down everything he'd ever written and reading all of those, too. until recently. a few weeks ago i bought his "book of hours" and another book of his religious poetry. hours is killing me.

on rilke, wikipedia states: "his haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable". i laughed when i read that. yes! that is exactly what he does. ineffable - incapable of being expressed or described in words. and yet - he does. whew.

several years ago a friend sent me a rilke quote after seeing one of my photographs. i finally found where the quote came from when i started flipping through hours.

rilke's tower
i am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and i have been circling for a thousand years,
and i still don't know if i am a falcon,
or a storm, or a great song.

but below is my favourite rilke thus far. i still can't fully believe that it's real. it's that good.
shadows I can move in

God speaks to each of us as He makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

these are the words we dimly hear:

you, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
embody Me.

flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
just keep going. no feeling is final.
don't let yourself lose Me.

nearby is the country they call life.
you will know it by its seriousness.

give Me your hand.
[this post includes affiliate links]


  1. Yes, it's beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I love the line, "no feeling is final." that resonates.

  2. yeah that whole stanza hit me -- "let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. just keep going. no feeling is final." man. i feel like this brief poem is a whole world. and like i just read an 800 page novel.

  3. give me your hand. yes, indeed!

  4. Wow. So cool that you love this one. Michelle gave me his poems 4.5 years ago. And this poem was the one I kept going back to. The last 3 lines helped lead me out of darkness.

  5. OK you got me crying now.