March 27, 2011


Marseille, 1906

And you wait. You wait for the one thing
that will change your life,
make it more than it is—
something wonderful, exceptional,
stones awakening, depths opening to you.

In the dusky bookstalls
old books glimmer gold and brown.
You think of lands you journeyed through,
of paintings and a dress once worn
by a woman you never found again.

And suddenly you know: that was enough.
You rise and there appears before you
in all its longings and hesitations
the shape of what you lived.

Book of Images


  1. Yes, it is enough. It is all good.

  2. Magnificent. Such a shift from expecting to find greatness over the next horizon to realizing you're already there. As someone once said, "happiness isn't getting what you want, but wanting what you've got." Rilke found happiness (here). "Stones awakening, depths opening" as the poet treasures the silo of images already stored, in the motions of the moment. The photo I think is so apropos here. -Brendan

  3. It's an incredible shift when this happens. When the longing for more than what you have, and have had, becomes appreciation for what is, and was, that has shaped your life. In this, I find, that it is I who choose my life out of these pieces (as Virginia Woolf says: Arrange whatever pieces come your way.)

    This is the poet's way.

  4. i'm shocked and pleased and then think, i must be simple, for rilke constantly does this to me. i have to admit, i often find poetry dated, but time and time again his ideas are like fingers to a cliff, and i am the cliff, and he pulls and eats away at me.

    first of all the photograph seems sacred to me, not just because of rodin and the girl, but because of those who are watching. three faces. my god. three witnesses to this moment. they are every bit as important as rodin and the girl.

    i feel both at tune with rilke's poem and at odds with it, depending on which point of my life i am considering. now, i am in tune with it, knowing there is no greater being than the simple waking and being conscious. however, there was a great period in my life that i was not awake. i was almost awake. i was in a daze, a daze of my own creating. i had created a mythology that was rather tight and limiting. i had no idea. and so one day i woke up, a stone awakening. it happened. and once it happened there was no retreat. and so how can i agree with rilke. it became a clear choice for me to be awake or be asleep. no. i consider this for a moment. i think of the man who recently told me that upon discovering near forty that he was a farmer that he became a farmer. i remarked he was brave. he said, no, once i knew what i was there was no choice. and so, once i knew i was a stone awake there was no choice. but there was that transition. there was! i was not always awake. but i didn't know i was sleeping before, so perhaps somehow rilke's poem is true for me as well. it was all good in its time.

    i have been testing this line in the last year, acceptance is the holiest of words. it is this, i think, that rilke points to. that our lives are rich and imbued at all points. it is just to see that that is important and to accept that.

    i liken my awakening to seeing over a fence. i remember thinking of it as this image while i was in the internal transition. i could just see over the fence. my legs strained. and i wept most in desperation to keep seeing over the fence. i did not want to fall behind it once again even if it was to contentment.

    i keep drawing from rilke the personal. for me this is poetry. to read and let sit words that don't touch, that don't challenge our minds or hearts, those are just words to me. rilke is not words. i think he's alive right now. i see him sewing dark cloth and pulling on translucent thread. i am but one pucker on that cloth.


  5. such wonderful writing - to see the whole even while immersed in it. i've experienced that several times throughout my life but the real knowing of the vision of its arc has only just begun for me. rodin in cambodia - i'd love to read more about his experience. steven

  6. How precious. I can look back and accept and understand things now... see it in it's "whole". But right now I'm watching my son looking at the "roads" the "options" dangling before his eyes (college choices/acceptances) waiting... knowing his life will change very soon. The "shape of his life" is unknown to him and he is anxious. But maybe that is the way of youth. Very nice words today.

  7. So nice to see more Rodin work (previous posts)! The choice of Rodin is of course normal, knowing their close relationship and also that Rilke for a short while was married to one of Rodin's models. By the way, I found a long time ago, by chance, the place where Rilke had lived while in Paris: Maybe you would like to see it next time in Paris?


"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Go ahead, bloom recklessly!