January 7, 2011

The Vastness of Connection

Palestine - The Heat and the Donkey, by Leonid Pasternak

Bereft of knowledge before the heavens of my life,
I stand astonished. Oh the great stars.
Their rising and their setting. How quiet.
As if I did not exist. Am I taking part? Do I discount
their pure power? Does it rule the movement
of my blood? I will yearn for no closer connections
and accustom my heart to its farthest reaches.
Better it live with the spine-chilling stars
than with the pretense of some protection hovering near.

Uncollected Poems


  1. "I stand astonished. Oh the great stars."

    Such power in just those 2 sentences. I stand astonished at Rilke. Daily. Here.

  2. To feel connected with everything, yet protected by nothing... eerie. No wonder Rilke often wrote of the part of us where beauty and terror meet and interlock.

  3. This is awesome - and a little frightening - in its emotional and intellectual honesty. 'Spine-chilling' is the word that gets to me. Lorenzo is spot-on in his remark about interlocking beauty and terror.

  4. Fear of the grandeur of, and in, ourselves -- what does it hold us from? What does it keep back, from us, and in us? We do not allow ourselves to be ruled by the stars, because we don't believe we are worthy, or powerful . . . that we are the stars. We don't love ourselves that much, to see it, past the hovering ceiling. What if . . . ?

  5. man - the hovering back and forth between the little person and the great realms of everything is breathtaking! this is quite a journey lorenzo. steven

  6. This posting seems connected to the previous two postings on the impermanent nature of our lives. We ask ourselves these existential questions about our power and our connections, but, intuitively, we already know the answers. As Ruth suggests, we come from stardust and it is to stardust that we return. During the meantime, the best we can do, as Rilke states, is to live with the spine-chilling stars, rather than the pretense of something hovering nearby. We could ask, of course, if the thing we pretend to be hovering nearby and the spine-chilling stars are the same thing, but that can wait for another day — and perhaps more computer power that is now technologically available.

  7. This undulation between the large and small, the magnificent and the mundane, between significance and non at all. It is hard work, and necesesary for the soul, as though in just the thoughts alone, the elasticity required promotes growth.


  8. I'm very interested in that, Erin. That the undulation is necessary. The tension of opposites is necessary for something to be created, according to the Tao. What you said about elasticity being necessary for growth, and even for the thoughts themselves, is true, I feel.

    It reminds me of Rumi, who seems to always offer an opposition to every concept. Just when I think I've figured something out, its opposite is waiting to pounce.

  9. Erin's undulation--how it merges with yesterday's quote: "Life always says Yes and No simultaneously." The necessary tension--and elasticity (which is not possible without tension, is it?)...
    But to stand astonished before the stars, to will his heart to live among the spine-chilling stars as on a clear winter's night they are. A soul's cry.
    I am still reminded of van Gogh...

  10. The phrase "spine-chilling stars" is so evocative.

    The excerpt in its entirety is marvelous but I especially like "I will yearn for no closer connections/ and accustom my heart to its farthest reaches."

    For me, there is a sense here that we best leave ourselves in the hands of the One (God) than some false idol.

  11. what a cool idea for a year project


"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!