February 1, 2011

Go to the Limits of Your Longing

The Inner Voice, Auguste Rodin

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

From the Book of Hours I, 59


  1. It's such a treat to come over here and read these mellifluous lines. Beautiful.

  2. Oh yes. This is why I love to read Rilke.

  3. This then is a gift Rilke gives himself, this faith. I was shocked to read that last two lines, "go to the limits of your longing.
    Embody me." I think for all of his struggle, this kind of faith must have made life easier for him. Perhaps this helps me understand why Rilke imposed a way of life that kept him alone, from his wife and love, for to be filled with longing was to be the embodiment of god. As an artist, to be filled so with such pressing emotions/longing would be life itself, the press to create, and yet his faith allows comfort there too. It is making more and more sense to me.


  4. It’s true, Sue and Andrew, just the sound of these words in English is beautiful. I wish I knew German and could appreciate them in the original too.

    Erin, I have also been taken aback at Rilke’s lifestyle choices, in regard to living away from his wife and child. His choice seems to have a lot to do with what he discovered through his intense “apprenticeship” with Rodin, that it was by being completely immersed in his own work that he would discover meaning, fulfillment, and connection with this all-important interior place of the divine. But as you say, maybe it is also where he found ever-increasing longing, the deeper he got.

    The subtitle of The Book of Hours is: Love Poems to God. I have heard artists say that they are most "productive" when they are in a state of desire that is also sensation, and without it, their work is less alive.

    Again, the two sides of everything are laid before us: emptiness and longing on one side, and embodiment on the other. Filling while emptying, simultaneously.

    Here I go, looping again.

  5. "Go to the limits of your longing" - this speaks, doesn't it?

  6. I so appreciate the pairing with Rodin's "The Inner Voice", for isn't it that inner voice that speaks so strongly to us, out of silence, impels us to seek, pushes us to "the limits of longing"?


"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!