May 29, 2011

Simply in Your Presence

Still Life with Plate of Cherries

I'm too alone in the world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour holy.
I'm too small in the world, yet not small enough
to be simply in your presence, like a thing—
just as it is.

From the Book of Hours I, 13


  1. "Being willing to fall in order to know how great soaring will one day feel" - Brendan's comment from yesterday.

    To wish for a bigger fall, a smaller small, a lonelier loneliness.

    Is this humility or just plain masochism?

    In so much of Rilke we find a tension between the ascetic and the aesthete - a creative polarity which greatly benefits his writing.

  2. Makes you wonder if "The Thing Itself" Ezra Pound fed Rilke's Hours to his flames. The difference between the two poets was like the difference Carl Jung made between James Joyce and his daughter Lucia: The one dove to where the other drowned. - Brendan

  3. Note to Solitary Walker -- great observation, "In so much of Rilke we find a tension between the ascetic and the aesthete - a creative polarity which greatly benefits his writing.". He pulled those yearnings far apart and then merged them into his greatest work. Somewhere in one of his poems he wrote, and I paraphrase at best, "stretch your contradictions between the widest poles / because the god wants to know himself in you." Amen.- Brendan

  4. i'm thinking of the sufi adage "to be in this world but not of it" as i wonder if the aesthetic and ascetic aren't symbiotic and mutually informing in the person engaged in creative spiritual work. steven

  5. i weep in these words. i weep for recognition.
    i don't know how to add another word for it is absolutely perfect.

    is it masochism? i'm afraid i can't even see this question, really, an inability on my part, for i understand the alone and aloner, the small and smaller. i'm not even sure that it is humility exactly, although i think that it is tied to it. but rather there is a toxic energy between people despite all of the goodness that arises. it confuses truths. it is only in the barest of moments that truth is experienced. i laugh. if he means what i think he means there aren't even words to describe it. even words are too much.


  6. rilke and rumi?
    a similar sensibility?

    Such a splendid comment by the comments!

  7. Moving poem and one I so identify with. The struggle to find self and be--just be. Be in a world that is full of pain. Learning to embrace it all, pain and pleasure, and be who you are.

    Thank you for sharing this!


"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!