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Archive for October 3rd, 2008

This poem is from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God.
It is written that Rilke received these poems in what he called
“inner dictations”.  Anita Barrows describes it as: “words that
came to him mornings and evenings and that struck him with
their force and persistence.”  Yet the publication of these
poems was delayed and for a few years they were read only
by the woman to whom they were dedicated.  Rilke considered
them to be as private and sacred as prayers.  How grateful I
am that he has shared their sacredness with the rest of the
world as he asks the great questions below: who is it, that
lives this life?

And yet, though we strain
against the deadening grip
of daily necessity,
I sense there is this mystery:

All life is being lived.

Who is living it, then?
Is it the thing 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?

Is it the animals, warmly moving,
or the birds, that suddenly rise up?

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

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