Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Book of Hours

(The Book of Hours) (1899-1903)

  • Extinguish my sight, and I can still see you;
    plug up my ears, and I can still hear;
    even without feet I can walk toward you,
    and without mouth I can still implore.
    Break off my arms, and I will hold you
    with my heart as if it were a hand;
    strangle my heart, and my brain will still throb;
    and should you set fire to my brain,
    I still can carry you with my blood.
Rainer Maria Rilke
I am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough
  • to make every hour holy.
    I am too small in the world, and yet not tiny enough
    just to stand before you like a thing,
    dark and shrewd.
    I want my will, and I want to be with my will
    as it moves towards deed;
    and in those quiet, somehow hesitating times,
    when something is approaching,
    I want to be with those who are wise
    or else alone.

    In Celebration of Me (1909)

  • I am so afraid of people's words.
    They describe so distinctly everything:
    And this they call dog and that they call house,
    here the start and there the end.

    I worry about their mockery with words,
    they know everything, what will be, what was;
    no mountain is still miraculous;
    and their house and yard lead right up to God.

    I want to warn and object: Let the things be!
    I enjoy listening to the sound they are making.
    But you always touch: and they hush and stand still.
    That's how you kill.

    • Translated by Annemarie S. Kidder

    Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

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