[kindle] Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to GodAuthor Rainer Maria Rilke – Stg2bio.co

At the beginning of the th century, a young German poet returned from a journey to Russia, where he had immersed himself in the spirituality he discovered there He received a series of poems about which he did not speak for a long time he considered them sacred, and different from anything else he ever had done and ever would do again This poet saw the coming darkness of the century, and saw the struggle we would have in our relationship to the divine The poet was Rainer Maria Rilke, and these love poems to God make up his Book of Hours


10 thoughts on “Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

  1. Meredith Meredith says:

    My favorite poem of Rilke s is found in this book I first read it in the bathroom of the Video Saloon where it had been written with sharpie in the first stall I am praying again, Awesome One Ich bete wieder, du Elauchter You hear me again, as wordsfrom the depths of merush 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 upout of garbage and broken glass.With my half mouth I stammer you,who are eternal i My favorite poem of Rilke s is found in this book I first read it in the bathroom of the Video Saloon where it had been written with sharpie in the first stall I am praying again, Awesome One Ich bete wieder, du Elauchter You hear me again, as wordsfrom the depths of merush 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 upout of garbage and broken glass.With my half mouth I stammer you,who are eternal in your symmetry.I lift to you my half handsin wordless beseeching, that I may find againthe eyes with which I once beheld you.I am a house gutted by firewhere only the guilty sometimes sleepbefore the punishment that devours themhounds them out in the open I am a city by the seasinking into a toxic tide.I am strange to myself, as though someone unknownhad poisoned my mother as she carried me.It s here in all the pieces of my shamethat now I find myself again.I yearn to belong to something, to be containedin an all embracing mind that sees meas a single thing.I yearn to be heldin 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


  2. Jennifer Locke Jennifer Locke says:

    Read this book several years ago and decided that I had to own it, mainly for this poem I live my life in widening circlesthat reach out across the world.I may not complete this last onebut I give myself to it.I circle around God, around the primordial tower.I ve been circling for thousands of yearsand I still don t know am I a falcon, a storm,or a great song


  3. Caroline Caroline says:

    Whoa Whoa.I read a checked out library copy of this book, but about halfway through I realized that I was going to need to own it Still working on that But thanks to Rilke, I finally understand the point of poetry Don t get me wrong I ve appreciated poetry before, like the imagery it evoked or the cadence it gave or whatever But THIS Well, just refer to the first two words of the review I found this stuff profound In almost every poem I found a stanza or thought that would just stop me Whoa Whoa.I read a checked out library copy of this book, but about halfway through I realized that I was going to need to own it Still working on that But thanks to Rilke, I finally understand the point of poetry Don t get me wrong I ve appreciated poetry before, like the imagery it evoked or the cadence it gave or whatever But THIS Well, just refer to the first two words of the review I found this stuff profound In almost every poem I found a stanza or thought that would just stop me in my tracks with an aha moment or simply due the sheer beauty of the words I think this is also the first time I ve come upon subject matter that couldn t be adequately expressed except through poetry Most love poems I ve read I find to be rather trite, but these are anything but The depth of feeling they express is simply incredible.My first exposure to Rilke s poetry came from a church talk I heard a few years ago The poem was titled God Speaks to Each of Us, and after hearing it I thought about it for months afterward It was this poem that led me to the Book of Hours It also impressed upon me the difficultly of translating poems The fact that all of Rilke s poems were originally written German meant there were many variations in English of a single poem in the German As a result, I had to flip through a number of different editions of the Book of Hours with different translators before finding that the Barrows Macy translation contained the version of the first Rilke poem I had heard years earlier Their translation was the best that I found and seems to have been done with an immense amount of thought and care.Two final thoughts First, I loved how universally applicable these poems are They are appropriate readers of any or no faith, a point that Macy and Barrows emphasize in their commentary Second, I loved Rilke s focus on the idea of ripening I ve never thought of ripening in terms of anything other than fruit, but I think Rilke sees it as one of our reasons for being on earth I like this idea I want to ripen


  4. Steven Godin Steven Godin says:

    Beautiful, spiritual, insightful poetry I appreciate all aspects of his work, this one in particular though is one to be treasured It s like binding words into serene works of art Essential reading for those who seek a deeper understanding of Rilke s journey, as both man and poet.I picked out the poem below, which I feel sums up Rilke s mind during this book What will you do, God, when I die When I, your pitcher, broken, lie When I, your drink, go stale or dry I am your garb, the trade you p Beautiful, spiritual, insightful poetry I appreciate all aspects of his work, this one in particular though is one to be treasured It s like binding words into serene works of art Essential reading for those who seek a deeper understanding of Rilke s journey, as both man and poet.I picked out the poem below, which I feel sums up Rilke s mind during this book What will you do, God, when I die When I, your pitcher, broken, lie When I, your drink, go stale or dry I am your garb, the trade you ply,you lose your meaning, losing me.Homeless without me, you will berobbed of your welcome, warm and sweet.I am your sandals your tired feetwill wander bare for want of me.Your mighty cloak will fall away.Your glance that on my cheek was laidand pillowed warm, will seek, dismayed,the comforts that I offered once to lie, as sunset colors fadein the cold lap of alien stones.What will you do, God I am afraid


  5. Zinta Zinta says:

    The task of a translator, I think, has always been unappreciated It is a demanding one, a task that can never be done to the perfection it begs Language is a living, breathing thing, and it holds within it an entire culture, and in that culture, an entire people, and within these people, an entire world It is not possible to withdraw one such world and make it fit into the shape of another Yet if we are to even try to understand one another, the many of us on this earth and our ways, then tr The task of a translator, I think, has always been unappreciated It is a demanding one, a task that can never be done to the perfection it begs Language is a living, breathing thing, and it holds within it an entire culture, and in that culture, an entire people, and within these people, an entire world It is not possible to withdraw one such world and make it fit into the shape of another Yet if we are to even try to understand one another, the many of us on this earth and our ways, then translating the great works of any culture is a much needed task that some very brave soul must undertake Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy are such brave souls, and the two friends are bonded by their deep love for the work of German poet but born in Prague , Rainer Maria Rilke While I know a very little of German, I cannot by any measure judge their success in translation I have read Rilke in two languages, German being neither of them, and only from that experience can I say, cautiously, that I believe them to be as successful as any translators may hope to be And it may be enough that a translator love a work so deeply and with such devotion that this in itself carries through the spirit of what is intended How can one not fall in love with Rilke The poet transcends time, expressing what humankind has tried to express, surely, since self awareness first blushed at its own face In this particular collection, Rilke s poetry is a kind of love letter to God As love letters do, his poems speak of longing, of devotion, of the desire to serve and please, of the fears of separation, of the joy of reunion He wishes to present himself to God as he is, with open heart, in praise, one lonely being, perhaps, to another lonely being, both craving to love and be loved You, God, who live next door If at times, through the long night, I trouble youwith my urgent knocking this is why I hear you breathe so seldom I know you re all alone in that room If you should be thirsty, there s no oneto get you a glass of water I wait listening, always Just give me a sigh I m right here As it happens, the wall between usis very thin Why couldn t a cryfrom one of usbreak it down It would crumbleeasily,it would barely make a sound For Rilke, God is most intimate, most personal He speaks to Him as if they stand side by side, and indeed they do The need for company is mutual Rilke s work is arguably a perfect blend of male and female sensibilities, with both the masculine in its demand and the feminine in its open heart As Rilke was in his first years raised, oddly enough, as a daughter his mother had longed for one, and in something weirdly like denial, dressed her long locked boy as a girl in dresses and called him Rene so in later years, his father sent him to military school, to toughen him up and teach him a very male discipline Rilke would find his own good mix He fit neither of their plans, nor the conventional of a working society Poetry was his love for as long as memory, and in whatever context his life, it was the one steady rock He could and would not do any other work, forever seeking sponsors and mentors so that he may devote himself fully to his art When he fell in love for the first time, the woman he loved urged him to use themasculine version of his name, Rainer And so ever after, he did But all of this seems like sideline matters, mere tangents, including the love itself, as he had numerous relationships, holding none steady, including a marriage that produced a child Nothing else came first Nothing Only the word in verse When Rilke worked alongside sculptor, Auguste Rodin, he watched the sculptor s intensity and passion for his art, and was inspired They were a match, if not in medium, then in devotion This was how to live one s life as an artist With a singular vision, an undistracted dedication If Rodin created in stone, Rilke created in language, and so he sculpted verse, and in verse, his ongoing and lifelong prayer Only in our doing can we grasp you Only with our hands can we illumine you.The mind is but a visitor it thinks us out of our world.Each mind fabricates itself.We sense its limits, for we have made them And just when we would flee them, you comeand make of yourself an offering I don t want to think a place for you Speak to me from everywhere Your Gospel can be comprehendedwithout looking for its source When I go toward youit is with my whole life No doubt, God was listening and listens still If most of us pray in stutters and whispers, Rilke prayed in lyrical poetry, from the heart to God s ear Through his, the rest of us feel that much closer to the divine, as well


  6. Zanna Zanna says:

    First read 2006There is very little pre modern poetry that I am able to read myself, though I can often appreciate it being recited and I am not sure whether it s Rilke s genius or Babette Deutsch s musical, mainly free verse translation that makes these poems so beautiful, so perfectly clear and direct, like a mountain spring rolling over your toes, like a smooth cool pebble dropped into your hand.As an atheist I have to interrogate myself and work hard for a meaningful interpretation when I First read 2006There is very little pre modern poetry that I am able to read myself, though I can often appreciate it being recited and I am not sure whether it s Rilke s genius or Babette Deutsch s musical, mainly free verse translation that makes these poems so beautiful, so perfectly clear and direct, like a mountain spring rolling over your toes, like a smooth cool pebble dropped into your hand.As an atheist I have to interrogate myself and work hard for a meaningful interpretation when I read Rilke, but his god is so interesting that sometimes I m content to smile and leave him to it Even the unbeliever can find some stimulating conversation to have with these poems, if not comfort and sweetness.What will you do God, when I die When I, your pitcher, broken, lie When I, your drink, go stale or dry I am your garb, the trade you ply,you lose your meaning, losing me.Homeless without me, you will berobbed of your welcome, warm and sweet.I am your sandals your tired feetwill wander bare for want of me.Your mighty cloak will fall away.Your glance that on my cheek was laidand pillowed warm, will seek, dismayed,the comfort that I offered once to lie, as sunset colours fadein the cold lap of alien stones.What will you do, God I am afraid.In her introductions Deutsch writes beautifully about Rilke s god as created by art The wine not yet ripened , but here the poet addresses god in intimate love as, it seems to me, both parent and child.All will grow great and powerful again the seas be wrinkled and the land be plain,the trees gigantic and the walls be low and in the valleys, strong and multiform,a race of herdsfolk and of farmers grow.No churches to encircle God as thoughhe were a fugitive, and then bewail himas if he were a captured wounded creature all houses will prove friendly, there will bea sense of boundless sacrifice prevailingin dealings between men, in you, in me.No waiting the beyond, no peering toward it,but longing to degrade not even death we shall learn earthliness, and serve its ends,to feel its hands about us like a friend s.Without agreeing with him, I have sympathy for Nietzsche s sneer at Christian morality Love your neighbour and give away your wealth is simply not enough to live by, which is why the great Catholic theologians like Aquinas had to shore it up with Aristotle and other philosophers of the greco roman tradition Rilke takes a different approach, placing responsibility on the individual to create a world of gentleness and respect for nature through love Hmm Well it works as poetry, it works as an appeal, it feels nice.They will say mine as one will sometimes callthe prince his friend in speech with villagers,the prince being very great and far away.They call strange walls mine, knowing not at allwho is the master of the house indeed.They still say mine , and claim possession, thougheach thing, as they approach, withdraws and closes a silly charlatan perhaps thus posesas owner of the lightning and the sun.And so they say my life, my wife, my child,my dog, well knowing all that they have styledtheir own life, wife, child, dog, remainshapes foreign and unknown,that blindly groping they must stumble on.This truth, be sure, only the great discern,who long for eyes The others will not learnthat in the beggary of their wanderingthey cannot claim a bond with any thing,but, driven from possessions they have prized,not by their own belongings recognized,they can OWN wives nothan they own flowers,whose life is alien and apart from ours.This apartness of other beings, especially animals, is picked up by DH Lawrence, for example in his poem Fish When I read Lawrence s poem in this anthology I thought I had read in Rilke a wonderful poem about animals experience of the world in this little collection, but I was confused the poem was in The Thunder Mutters It s much richer and chewier than the sweet little poems here, so I know there s a lotRilke for me That s good, because his words make the world lovelier They weigh in the balance against despair


  7. Eadweard Eadweard says:

    I live my life in widening circlesthat reach out across the worldI may not complete this last onebut I give myself to it I love the dark hours of my being.My mind deepens into them.There I can find, as in old letters,the days of my life, already lived,and held like a legend, and understood I m slipping, I m slipping awaylike sandslipping through fingers Allmy cellsare open, and allso thirsty I ache and swellin a hundred places, but mostlyin the middle of my heartI want to die Leave me I live my life in widening circlesthat reach out across the worldI may not complete this last onebut I give myself to it I love the dark hours of my being.My mind deepens into them.There I can find, as in old letters,the days of my life, already lived,and held like a legend, and understood I m slipping, I m slipping awaylike sandslipping through fingers Allmy cellsare open, and allso thirsty I ache and swellin a hundred places, but mostlyin the middle of my heartI want to die Leave me alone.I feel I am almost there where the great terrorcan dismember me My blood is alive with many voicestelling me I am made of longing Often when I imagine youyour wholeness cascades into many shapesYou run like a herd of luminous deerand I am dark, a forest Let everything happen to you beauty and terrorJust keep going No feeling is final No one lives his lifeDisguised since childhood,haphazardly assembledfrom voices and fears and little pleasureswe come of age as masks.Our true face never speaks.Somewhere there must be storehouseswhere all these lives are laid awaylike suits of armor or old carriagesor clothes hanging limply on the wallsMaybe all paths lead there,to the depository of unlived things For we are only the rind and the leaf.The great death, that each of us carries inside,is the fruit.Everything enfolds it


  8. Neil R. Coulter Neil R. Coulter says:

    I found this copy of the Book of Hours on a giveaway shelf several months ago, and I believe it s the best free book that has ever come to me I would even say it s destiny that let me find this collection of amazing poems and reflections on God.I m not much interested in poetry I often find it either gimmicky bound by certain rules that make it seem artificial to me or impenetrable re almost any poem that appears in the New Yorker But Rilke s poems knocked me off my chair again and again I found this copy of the Book of Hours on a giveaway shelf several months ago, and I believe it s the best free book that has ever come to me I would even say it s destiny that let me find this collection of amazing poems and reflections on God.I m not much interested in poetry I often find it either gimmicky bound by certain rules that make it seem artificial to me or impenetrable re almost any poem that appears in the New Yorker But Rilke s poems knocked me off my chair again and again and I ve read through this volume numerous times since first finding it I ve rarely found any writing, poetry or prose, that so perfectly captures the feelings I have as I contemplate God and my relationship to him As someone involved in the arts, I love that Rilke has an artist s perspective Throughout the first of the three books in the collection, he considers the challenge of portraying God artistically but honestly.We must not portray you in king s robes,you drifting mist that brought forth the morning.Once again from the old paintboxeswe take the same gold for scepter and crownthat has disguised you through the ages.Piously we produce our images of youtill they stand around you like a thousand walls.And when our hearts would simply open,our fervent hands hide you I 4, p 50 This is the challenge for any artist committed to following Christ portraying God without being distracted by the portrayal itself.Near the end of Book 1, Rilke returns to that theme.I want to utter you I want to portray younot with lapis or gold, but with colors made of apple bark.There is no image I could inventthat your presence would not eclipse.I want, then, simply to say the names of things I 60, p 89 I also like how in Rilke s landscape, darkness is where God dwells and meets us But in the deep darkness is God I 50, p 83 Bright daylight, where light thins into nothing I 50, p 83 , can be a distraction, but throughout these poems darkness is where the truth is revealed and peace is possible.Having spent some time earlier this year with Shusako Endo s Silence, and Makoto Fujimura s meditation on Endo, Silence and Beauty, I appreciated the recurring theme of God s silence in Rilke s poems.Sometimes I pray Please don t talk.Let all your doing be by gesture only.Go on writing in faces and stonewhat your silence means I 44, p 80 He who will overcome youis working in silence I 49, p 82 God speaks to each of us as he makes us,then walks with us silently out of the night I 59, p 88 I am very fond of each of the three books in this volume Book 1 contains many of my favorite poems of the collection, and Books 2 and 3 are astounding when read straight through, as one unbroken meditation I don t think every follower of Jesus would love Rilke as much as I do, but for a certain type of Christian me , Rilke is a godsend.Other reviews of this edition point out the liberties that the translators, Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy, have taken in setting Rilke into English I understand that, and I don t claim to know Rilke through having read this translation I probably know Barrows and Macy as well as I do Rilke But that s okay with me The way they translated, while perhaps altering Rilke s original meaning, spoke to me in exactly the way I needed Whatever it is that I ve read here, it has lifted me up, and I will return to it again and again


  9. booklady booklady says:

    Rereading 2008 Ibrahim s post of this book reminded me that I have this and read it some years back Excellent Would really enjoy a reread Rilke is a favorite each poem is a meditation unto itself.


  10. Robert Case Robert Case says:

    This book was savored, digested a few poems at a time last summer, while on a 6 week bicycling tour of the western US One of the trip s many purposes was to unplug from the pace of city living, to better reassess my own path and priorities The bicycle and this book were both vehicles for that practice Writing over one hundred years ago, Rilke s poems describe and promote a reciprocal relationship with the Divine They are full of possibilities and challenges, making the book an ideal companio This book was savored, digested a few poems at a time last summer, while on a 6 week bicycling tour of the western US One of the trip s many purposes was to unplug from the pace of city living, to better reassess my own path and priorities The bicycle and this book were both vehicles for that practice Writing over one hundred years ago, Rilke s poems describe and promote a reciprocal relationship with the Divine They are full of possibilities and challenges, making the book an ideal companion for an interested reader in the midst of a long journey