Poems from the Book of Hours (Rilke)

| January 21, 2013

Do not be troubled, God, though they say “mine”

of all things that permit it patiently.

they are like wind that lightly strokes the boughs

and says: MY tree.

They hardly see

how all things glow that their hands seize upon,

so that they cannot touch

even the utmost fringe and not be singed.

They will say “mine” as one will sometimes call

the prince his friend in speech with villagers,

this prince being very great — and far away.

They call strange walls “mine,” knowing not at all

who is the master of the house indeed.

They still say “mine,” and claim possession, though

each thing, as they approach, withdraws and closes;

a silly charlatan perhaps thus poses

as owner of the lightning and the sun.

And so they say: my life, my wife, my child,

my dog, well knowing all that they have styled

their own: life, wife, child, dog, remain

shapes foreign and unknown,

that blindly groping they must stumble on.

This truth, be sure, only the great discern,

who long for eyes. The others WILL not learn

that in the beggary of their wandering

they cannot claim a bond with any thing,

but, driven from possessions they have prized,

not by their own belongings recognized,

they can OWN wives no more than they own flowers,

whose life is alien and apart from ours.

God, do not lose your equilibrium.

Even he who loves you and discerns your face

in darkness, when he trembles like a light

you breathe upon, — he cannot own you quite.

And if at night one holds you closely pressed,

locked in his prayers so you cannot stray,

…..you are the guest

…..who comes, but not to stay.

God, who can hold you? To yourself alone

belonging, by no owner’s hand disturbed,

you are like unripened wine that unperturbed

grows ever sweeter and is all alone.

– Rainer Maria Rilke, Poems from the Book of Hours

via Do not be troubled, God, though they say “mine” « The Floating Library.