February 7, 2011


Landscape with Carriage and Train in the Background
Vincent van Gogh

God will not let himself be lived like an easy morning.
Whoever enters that mineshaft
leaves wide-open earth behind,
crouches in tunnels to break Him loose.

Uncollected Poems


  1. One of my favorite Rilke-isms. Dunno if he got this from Rodin, or Rodin's work-ethic, but his fortitude in remaining in the mines for decades in search of true gold (and getting defeated by successively greater angels, as he put it) is put most forcefully here.

  2. This is a tough, trenchant observation by Rilke, and it holds a truth that every quester knows in the fiber of his or her being.

  3. Rilke and Rumi dance together well today. Rumi:

    I honor those who try
    to rid themselves of any lying,
    who empty the self
    and have only clear being there.

    Rilke breaks God loose from the walls of tunnels, and Rumi breaks loose and throws off the inauthentic parts of himself. Both ways of mining are essential in tandem: emptying myself, and digging for the divine.

  4. Curious you should bring Rumi up, as today's post, with the mineshaft metaphor reminded me of an earlier Rumi Days entry that also touches on God and mines. It is entitled Fog from April 14, 2010:

    As fog rising off the sea
    covers the sea,

    so it is noble work to build
    coherent philosophical discourses,

    but they block the sun of truth.
    See God's qualities as an ocean

    and this world as foam
    on the purity of that ocean.

    Here is the mystery.
    This intricate, astonishing world
    is proof of God's existence,
    even as it covers the beauty.

    One flake from the wall of a goldmine
    does not give much idea
    what it is like

    when the sun shines in
    and turns the air
    and the workers golden.

  5. This must be the day for concordances. Earlier, I was doing research for a post on Stanley Plumly and came across an interview in which he talked about Rilke's work. Also, in his introduction to David Young's translations of Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, Plumly writes of how Rilke "confronts his reader immediately with a breakdown of the normal distinctions between inside and outside, self and world...." Think of that applied to today's quoted poem, in the sense of taking "all of existence" within oneself, the light but also the deep darkness where understanding lies, the physical but also the spiritual. The mining of self is difficult indeed; but look what it yields.

    I'm reminded also of Ladinsky's Rumi translation: "I know there is a gold mine in you, when you find it/ the wonderment of the earth's gifts you will lay / aside as naturally as does/ a child a /doll." ("It's Rigged")

  6. I don't think I've ever seen this painting before.


"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!