March 23, 2011

What Will You Do, God?

 Woman as Vase
by Auguste Rodin

What will you do, God, when I die?

I am your pitcher (when I shatter?)
I am your drink (when I go bitter?)
I, your garment; I, your craft.
Without me what reason have you?

Without me what house
where intimate words await you?
I, velvet sandal that falls from your foot.
I, cloak dropping from your shoulder.
What will you do, God? It troubles me.

From The Book of Hours I, 36


  1. Again, he astonishes! God as friend. Rilke as compassionate one who anticipates God's loss, and worries for him.

    But I guess the point is that we are god, the divine creators, expressing the divinity within.

  2. or we
    god's hands.

    wow. what a liberating and empowering perspective! huh. gonna have to spend some time with this.


  3. See the power of Positive Thoughts within you.

  4. A little precipitous here for me, the young poet (whom he would later write letters to) a tad weighted with vocation. What's God gonna do, when the gifted one goes silent? Ruth, I like you see it that R. has compassion for his maker, that the husbandry which created the gift is so often foiled by chance or poor use of the gift. I see some distance here from "I am your pitcher (when I shatter?)" to "be the crystal glass/that shattered even as it rang" in the Sonnets. How young, how earnest to believe the gift entire in his youth. I remember a well-published poet saying, "it takes decades" to learn to write poems -- encouraging, since there's so much more room to grow: and in his Letters to a Young Poet R. would say "all is generation and growth." The Gardener here I think was called on to do some necessary pruning. - Brendan

  5. In French:

    Alors que feras–tu Dieu si je meurs ?
    Je suis la cruche (si je me brise ?)
    Je suis la boisson (si je m’altère ?)
    Je suis ton habit ton commerce,
    Avec moi perdu tu perdrais ton sens.
    après moi tu n’auras plus de maison,
    où les mots proches et chaleureux te salueraient.
    De tes pieds fatigués tombera
    cette sandale en velours qui est moi
    ton grand manteau te quittera,
    ton regard, que je réchauffe avec mes joues
    que je reçois comme une couche
    voudra venir, me cherchera, longuement
    et se posera contre le coucher de soleil
    avec des pierres inconnues au creux de lui-même.
    Alors que feras-tu Dieu ?
    J’ai très peur

    ... and the original:

    Was wirst du tun, Gott, wenn ich sterbe?
    Ich bin dein Krug (wenn ich zerscherbe?)
    Ich bin dein Trank (wenn ich verderbe?)
    Bin dein Gewand und dein Gewerbe,
    mit mir verlierst du deinen Sinn.
    Nach mir hast du kein Haus, darin
    dich Worte, nah und warm, begrüßen.
    Es fällt von deinen müden Füßen
    die Samtsandale, die ich bin.
    Dein großer Mantel lässt dich los.
    Dein Blick, den ich mit meiner Wange
    warm, wie mit einem Pfühl, empfange,
    wird kommen, wird mich suchen, lange -
    und legt beim Sonnenuntergange
    sich fremden Steinen in den Schoß.
    Was wirst du tun, Gott? Ich bin bange.

    I alway wondered how it is possible to translate poetry. It seems from what I can see here, quite possible. ... although in the German and French version, he seems to be more scared than just troubled.

    (I sometime admire Rodin's simple paintings more than his sculptures.)


"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!