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October 31, 2012
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Returning to Rilke

Every morning I begin the day by reading something that will help me set a positive intention for the day. Lately I’ve been returning to Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours, the edition translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy, to supplement that morning time. Translation is tricky! Reviews of this book will note that Barrows and Macy have taken a subjective and poetic approach to the translation–not necessarily the goal of the translator. By doing so, they have attempted to provide the reader with the same sort of lyrical sense that is evident in the original German. But I don’t read German, (although I sometimes think I want to learn it just so I could read Rilke) so I must rely on translations–and this one came highly recommended.

Below are images of one of my artist books, Hello? It was inspired by a passage from The Book of Hours. I return to it from time to time, sometimes in the morning for inspiration, other times when I need to remind myself of my own spiritual path, and my commitment to it. It is followed by the passage that inspired it.

I am praying again, Awesome One.
 
You hear me again, as words 
from the depths of me
rush toward you in the wind.
 
I’ve been scattered in pieces, 
torn by conflict,
mocked by laughter,
washed down in drink.
 
In alleyways I sweep myself up
out of garbage and broken glass.
With my half-mouth I stammer you,
who are eternal in your symmetry.
I lift to you my half-hands
in wordless beseeching, that I may find again
the eyes with which I once held you.
 
I am a house gutted by fire
where only the guilty sometimes sleep
before the punishment that devours them
hounds them out into the open.
 
I am a city by the sea
sinking into a toxic tide
I am strange to myself, as though someone unknown 
had poisoned my mother as she carried me.
 
It’s here in all the pieces of my shame
that now I find myself again.
I yearn to belong to something, to be contained
in an all-embracing mind that sees me
as a single thing.
I yearn to be held
in the great hands of your heart–
oh let them take me now.
Into them I place these fragments, my life,
and you, God–spend them however you want.
 
The Book of Hours, II, 2

1 Comment

  1. Awesome one. Writing about you on the Line right now. Captured by this post. xo S

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