Sunday, November 30, 2008


When I returned from the dog park this morning, I looked around the house and thought, "Man, I need to clean this place from top to bottom and do about five loads of laundry." Then I was hit by an even stronger compulsion to spend some time with Rainer Maria Rilke's Book of Hours, his "love poems to God." I hadn't really been contemplating the devastating events in Mumbai until I got to this, which I offer today as food for thought --

Ich lese es hearus aus deinem Wort

I read it here in your very word,
in the story of the gestures
with which your hands cupped themselves
around our becoming -- limiting, warm.

You said live out loud, and die you said lightly,
and over and over again you said be.

But before the first death came murder.
A fracture broke across the rings you'd ripened.
A screaming shattered the voices

that had just come together to speak you,
to make of you a bridge
over the chasm of everything.

And what they have stammered ever since
are fragments
of your ancient name.

(From the Penguin 100th Anniversary Edition of Rilke's Book of Hours -- Love Poems to God, translated from the German by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)


Barbara said...

Such a fitting way to try to make sense of the atrocities halfway around the world in a town that used to be called Bombay.

Welcome back to the world of Blogging, my friend. It's a place where you can find solace as you weep and cheering as you experience joy.

Ulysses said...

Let us keep stammering, and try as we can to respond to the answer that comes.

Angela said...

Yes, Rilke is allways the best when you are at loss for words yourself - even better in German. Thanks for sharing this one! And about Bombay/Mumbai...what good does this bombing/terrifying/killing do - even to the ones who do it? Can anyone LIVE with such hatred?

Reya Mellicker said...

So glad to see a post on your blog. You have fans you know, many fans.

Skip the laundry and read Rilke - that's my motto!

willow said...

Like a bridge over troubled waters...

Yes! Rilke over laundry any day of the week!

Squirrel said...

I'm glad to see you spent time with Rilke rather than worry about cleaning and laundry! This is a nice post.