January 3, 2011


Alexander Pushkin at the Seashore, by Leonid Pasternak

Whoever you may be: step into the evening.
Step out of the room where everything is known.
Whoever you are,
your house is the last before the far-off.
With your eyes, which are almost too tired
to free themselves from the familiar,
you slowly take one black tree
and set it against the sky: slender, alone.
And you have made a world.
It is big
and like a word, still ripening in silence.
And though your mind would fabricate its meaning,
your eyes tenderly let go of what they see.

Book of Images


  1. Just added your blog to my Google Reader, "Favorites" folder, the one I check and read daily.


  2. The dark silhouette of a tree comes to mind and then fades.

  3. This seems poem seems to reflect the Rilke statement quoted in Lorenzo's comment on yesterday's posting about the living through the eyes, eyes that are "so ready to grasp, so willing to relinquish things." We leave the room where everything is known, we take our eyes that have grown tired with the familiar, and we see something that is so new that it becomes a world in itself. In the finest spirit of Zen Buddhism, however, Rilke says that our new discovery much be relinquished, lest we miss the next revelation.

  4. Terresa, welcome, so good to have you on board the Rilke train!

    Elisabeth, yes, letting go . . .

    George, so good that you made the connection with Lorenzo's comment-quote yesterday. I see Zorba here too, waking up and seeing the world fresh, like a new boy. ". . . so new that it becomes a world in itself." To see it all that way, oh George.

    Whoever you are,
    your house is the last before the far-off.

    We are all on the edge of the new and undiscovered country, just outside our door.

    I also think of what you and I have discussed at Transit Notes, that we are sometimes too tired to not only free ourselves from the familiar, but also to express the world of the new, because it can be so profoundly and deeply moving, it is beyond expressing . . . like a word, still ripening in silence. The mind so wants to understand, to describe, to coalesce and find meaning. The linear and cyclical must remain in balance though, and sometimes the heart takes over from the mind, so that we can let go of the angst. You're so right too, that one important reason for living in the present moment is that we wouldn't want to miss what this moment brings.

  5. i'm grateful for george's view of the significance of the closing words. the poem's so like a rising helix of insight. steven

  6. Steven, amen.

    Sally, you may have already seen it, there is a link at the top of the sidebar "About the Images" -- with a bit more information about Pasternak, and how Rilke met him, and also with a link to a bio about him at wiki. You'll be seeing many more paintings of his in the coming posts. I have fallen for his soft light and shadow.

  7. without form
    we transcend
    and are able to know form
    and yet
    form remains beyond the purpose of our knowing
    and then
    as a gift
    we become.

    funny eh?

    this journey that we are on - this train to discovery and understanding - until these last few years i didn't know that the train existed, that others were on it, that i wanted a ticket.

    i love this elasticity of time and form, that which i was just thinking of this morning, just wrote of on a tired page, just discussed with ds about. i love your poem very much.


  8. this reminds me of the "Power of Now" - being in a moment raw without any preconceptions, no-mind, only being.

  9. Yes, beautiful. You let go of the world. Slowly. And with difficulty. Then you make a world. And let it go. Without intellectual judgement. Pure Zen, as George said...

  10. The tree. erin's "form." "Step out of the room where everything is known." Into the evening, toward Pasternak's blue...Mmmmm.

    Thank you for including the notes about the artist, and also the translation bits. I think Rilke is one of the most difficult poets to render into English. Ineffable--like that blue.

  11. In some ways, this feels like a poetry class. But what I find myself drawn to is the art. The art is beautiful and unexpected and unfamiliar as I've never before seen it.

  12. The verse brings to mind a Caspar David Friedrich painting, a specific one, and the painting brings to mind a number of them. I suppose it is overlapping romanticism.


"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!