From Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
trans.Anita Barrows and Joanna Macey
I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.
If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.
Conflicting Images Emerge:
-No forcing, no holding back
-But rivers can overflow,.wrecking havoc on nearby communities
-“Let justice roll down like a river,” Amos 5:24
-The Colorado river carved out the Grand Canyon over a period of millions of years
-Rivers plunge over steep ledges into pools below. Hear the roar of Niagra Falls and Victoria Falls in Zambia
-The River Dee in Scotland meandering along peacefully, allowing fly fishers the luxury of patience.
I resist the drive to dualize by insisting that I act this way and not that way. What matters, in Rilke’s mind, is that my action be true to itself, authentic.
“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” Norman MacLean
photo credit: ShinyPhotoScotland N08/24432298457″>Mist in the Carse of Gowrie via photopin (license)
4 thoughts on “Free-Flowing Action”
What courage it takes to be one’s True Self. So much conspires against it: family of origin, personality, institutions. Yet we’ve been put here to allow that Self to bloom. Thank God for Rilke, Rumi, Rita et.al for their reminders.
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Thank you for your presence here and for your kind response.
Thank you, Anita. I do love Rilke. He wrote this gathering of poems in his early 20’s, a mystic already.