April 8, 2011

How to Bloom

Almond Tree in Blossom

The almond trees in bloom: all we can accomplish here is to ever know ourselves in our earthly appearance.

I endlessly marvel at you, blissful ones—at your demeanor, the way you bear your vanishing adornment with timeless purpose. Ah, to understand how to bloom: then would the heart be carried beyond all milder dangers, to be consoled in the great one.

Uncollected Poems


  1. That is why we are here. To learn to bloom.

  2. How moving and rich the concept of an understanding of how to bloom carrying heart beyond all milder dangers to be consoled(!) in the great danger.

    Our house in the hills in El Griego is surrounded by pine woods, olive trees and almond groves. Every year, late February and mid-March bring our eyes (and nostrils) the mild and marvellous pageantry of the almond trees in blossom. My two daughters have known this yearly ritual of spring all their lives. Years ago, when they were still quite young, we visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. They trooped along dutifuly but a bit sullen faced, until we entered a room which featured on the far wall one of the artists painting's of an almond branch in bloom. It was the first thing they saw and they both exclaimed at once ¡Un almendro!. Suddenly, something bloomed in them and after that instant nobody enjoyed Vincent Van Gogh more that day than did they.

  3. I was about to write something about bearing your vanishing adornment with timeless purpose, when your comment appeared, Lorenzo. I was going to say that to wait, knowing the blooms will return, with that patience, perhaps learning to bloom as Andrew says, or readying to bloom. What is happening in those months between blossoms?

    Then your comment arrived from you about your daughters. I have heard how heady almond blossoms are. In fact, it was only a couple of years ago when I saw almond trees in bloom that I even knew they blossomed! So beautiful. Hearing about the connection between the almond groves at El Griego, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and your daughters' hearts lighting up in blossom, is really about as heady as if I could smell those blossoms this minute, over my coffee.

  4. I should add by way of clarification that I "saw" almond trees in bloom in a photograph, online. Sadly, as beautiful as they looked, I could not smell them.

  5. it is really odd how a person can tell whether a painting by Vincent was an earlier or later work, even if it is shown in only black and white.

  6. ruth the painting, the words and lorenzo's comment are blooms in their own right. steven

  7. I love this blog as much for the comments as for Rilke's amazing words & the beautiful art work. Thanks.

  8. Yeah, bloom recklessly. "... to understand how to bloom: then would the heart be carried beyond all milder dangers, to be consoled in the great one" is so reminiscent of the first lines from Sonnet II.13:

    Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
Behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter

    That only by wintering through it will your heart survive ...

    (Stephen Mitchell translation)

    Thus we are "consoled" by our greatest hours of pain, the Angel mediating those moments, moultling us into the love which "lasts by not lasting." (from Jack Gilbert's "The Great Fires"). It parallels too the next sonnet in the sequence, II.14, which begins:

    Look at the flowers, so faithful to what is earthly,
    to whom we lend fate from the very boarder of fate.
    And if they are sad about how they must wither and die,
    perhaps it is our vocation to be their regret.

    Yes, our vocation, to bloom so recklessly, to be the glass that shattered as it rang ... Brendan

  9. Yes, I believe we do come here to learn to bloom, and perhaps, as Ruth was on the verge of saying, to appreciate no longer blooming--dormancy--and use it as a source of...grace, in art, in life. What I love (and sense that Rilke loved though I'm probably wrong) about spring is that each petal of each blossom on every tree is so small, yet together they overwhelm.

    Lorenzo, I love that story about your daughters. So lucky they! Brendan, thank you. I know what I'm going to be reading later...

  10. Thank you Lorenzo for sharing the story of your daughters' awakening. I love to see how the 'light comes on' for us when we can see beauty where we saw none before.

    Ruth, I think the time between blossoms is the time of confusion when the mind is in the process of changing.

  11. I must be between blossoms tonight. My mind is in a state of confusion when the mind is in the process of changing after an all day TED conference. :-)

    This has been such a beautiful litany of comments, everyone. It's one of those times when I feel we are all standing in a grove, each tree different, smelling one another.

  12. I think of listening to the spring peepers, their beautiful song in the swamp and it seems like love, but this makes me think the love might be lost in the lust's rush. How lovely it might sound if they didn't try so hard.
    The almond asks for nothing simply taking what the season grants and blooms so magnificently.
    perhaps there is a downside to a brain and heart.

  13. Isn't the emphasis on how the almond blooms: "recklessly?"


"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!