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Alone, yet not alone

Advent Day Four, 2014, Melanie Mowinski

Today is Rainer Maria Rilke‘s birthday. I often turn to his writings, and have since college when I first read Letters to a Young Poet. Today I share with you a poem from his Book of Hours.

Advent Day Four, 2014, Melanie Mowinski

Advent Day Four, 2014, Melanie Mowinski

I’m too alone in the world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour holy
I’m too small in the world, yet not small enough
to be simply in your presence, like a thing—
just as it is.

I want to know my own will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones—
or alone.

I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
I want to stay clear in your sight.

I would describe myself like a landscape I’ve studied
at length, in detail;
like a word I’m coming to understand;
like a pitcher I pour from at mealtimes;

like my mother’s face;
like a ship that carried me
when the waters raged.

– From Rilke’s Book Of Hours translated by Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy


  1. glenn hazelton says:

    this is a wonderful poem
    thanks for sharing it

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