Rainer Maria Rilke

I enfold your cities

I am, you anxious one.

Do you sense me, ready to break
into being at your touch?
My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.
Can't you see me standing before you
cloaked in stillness?...

I am the dream you are dreaming.
When you want to awaken, I am that wanting:
I grow strong in the beauty you behold.
And with the silence of stars I enfold
your cities made by time.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy in A YEAR WITH RILKE

It is spring again

It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke in "Sonnets to Orpheus. Part One, XXI"

Gravity's Law

How surely gravity's law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing—
each stone, blossom, child —
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God's heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke from "Gravity’s Law" in RILKE'S BOOK OF HOURS, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

The Man Watching

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great.
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us...

This is how one grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke from "The Man Watching", translated by Robert Bly

The forest that always surrounded us

I love you, gentlest of Ways...

You, the great homesickness we could never shake off,
you, the forest that always surrounded us...

~ by Rainer Maria Rilke from "Ich Liebe dich, du sanftestes Gesetz", translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

This uncontainable night

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change...

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent Earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.
~ from SONNETS TO ORPHEUS, Part Two, XXIX by Rainer Maria Rilke

The most visible joy

The most visible joy
can only reveal itself to us
when we've transformed it, within.
~ Rilke

The only courage that is demanded of us

At the bottom the only courage that is demanded of us is to have courage for the most strange, the most singular, and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That humankind has in this sense been cowardly, has done life endless harm; the whole so-called "spirit-world," death, all those things that are so akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out of life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied. To say nothing of God.
~ from LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET by Rainier Maria Rilke

Now do heart work

Work of sight is done.
Now do heart work
on the pictures within you.

~ by Rainer Maria Rilke

To multiply a loved one's freedom by all the freedom we can find in ourselves

This is guilt, if anything is guilt: not to multiply a loved one's freedom by all the freedom we can find in ourselves. We have, in loving, only this one task: to let each other go. For holding on is easy for us, nothing we need learn.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke in DEAR FRIEND by Eric Torgersen
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