‘You come and go’:Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke

You come and go. The doors swing closed
ever more gently, almost without a shudder
Of all who move through the quiet houses,
you are the quietest.

We become so accustomed to you,
we no longer look up
when your shadow falls over the book we are reading
and makes it glow. For all things
sing you: at times
we just hear them more clearly.

Often when I imagine you
your wholeness cascades into many shapes.
You run like a herd of luminous deer
and I am dark. I am a forest.

You are a wheel at which I stand,
whose dark spokes sometimes catch me up,
revolve me nearer to the centre.
Then all the work I put my hand to
widens from turn to turn.

[From ‘The Book of Hours’ which Rilke published in April 1905. ‘These poems explore the Christian search for God and the nature of Prayer, using symbolism from Saint Francis and Rilke’s observation of Orthodox Christianity during his travels in Russia in the early years of the twentieth century’.
Recommended by Margaret Place]