Monday, February 28, 2011

Rilke's God

"You who know, and whose vast knowing is born of poverty, abundance of poverty -
make it so the poor are no longer despised and thrown away.
Look at them standing about -- like wildflowers, which have nowhere else to grow."

No one lives his life...

Our true face never speaks...

Maybe all paths lead there,
to the repository of unlived things...

All life is being lived.

Who is living it, then?
Is it the things themselves,
or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?

Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal to each other?

Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances,
or streets, as they wind through time?

...Who lives it, then? God, are you the one
who is living life?

All who seek you
test you.
And those who find you
bind you to image and gesture.

I would rather sense you
as the earth senses you.
In my ripening
what you are.

I need from you no tricks
to prove you exist...

No miracles, please.
Just let your laws
become clearer
from generation to generation.

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

You are the future,
the red sky before sunrise
over the fields of time.

You are the cock's crow when night is done,
you are the dew and the bells of matins,
maiden, stranger, mother, death.

You create yourself in ever-changing shapes
that rise from the stuff of our days --
unsung, unmourned, undescribed,
like a forest we never knew.

You are the deep innerness of all things,
the last word that can never be spoken,
To each of us you reveal yourself differently;
to the ship as coastline, to the shore as a ship.

The kings of the world are old and feeble.
They bring forth no heirs.

Their sons are dying before they are men,
and their pale daughters
abandon themselves to the brokers of violence.

Their crowns are exchanged for money
and melted down into machines,
and there is no health in it.

Does the ore feel trapped
in coins and gears? In the petty life
imposed upon it
does it feel homesick for the earth?

If metal could escape
from coffers and factories,
and te torn-open mountains
close around it again,

we would be whole.

All will come again into its strength;
the fields undivided, the waters un-dammed,
the trees towering and the walls built low,
And in the valleys, people as strong
and varied as the land.

And no churches where God
is imprisoned and lamented
like a trapped and wounded animal.

The houses welcoming all who knock
and a sense of boundless offering
in all relations, and in you and me.

No yearning for an afterlife, no looking beyond,
no belittling of death,
but only longing for what belongs to us
and serving earth, lest we remain unused.

pp 165-181 of Rilke's Book of Hours:
Love Poems to God

100 anniversary edition (containing also the original German Text)

Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy (Like me, you may want to find out which of your friends know German and are willing to provide the German layered insights to this beautiful translation. For a lover of God like me I'm thus able to lean more toward that view and faith in these poems.)

* The Wildflower Painting found here

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