May 28, 2011

When Things Close In

It feels as though I make my own way
through massive rock
like a vein of ore
alone, encased.

I am so deep inside it
I can't see the path or any distance:
everything is close
and everything closing in on me
has turned to stone.

Since I still don't know enough about pain,
this terrible darkness makes me small,
If it's you, though—

press down hard on me, break in
that I may know the weight of your hand
and you, the fullness of my cry.

The Book of Hours III, 1


  1. These last two stanzas knock me out. I don't know enough about pain . . . and then that plea to the One inside the pain who can reconcile it, because the One witnesses him . . . they witness each other, mutually. And somehow the pain is advantageous in this exchange. Breathtaking.

  2. I feel that weight counterpoised with my cry.

  3. I've just discovered you through Forest Dream Weaver - and what delights you have here! I will return to follow when Blogger sorts itself out and gives us back our faithful.

  4. There's a great contrast between the first two and last two stanzas, between that "massive" unmovable, unmoving stone in the former and the breaking down in the latter.

  5. As a lapsed Catholic, Rilke struggled with the presence of Deity in his art. Often he sounds like Jonah in the belly of the whale, or Lascaux, or the Sistine Chapel. And there's more than a little of David, the psalmist, here too. So much direct address to Presence, Vastness, Myth. The singer as initiate to song, spreading wide his wings and being willing to fall in order to know how great soaring will one day feel. - Brendan

  6. present again is the aloneness offset by the need for witnessing, "break in
    that I may know the weight of your hand
    and you, the fullness of my cry."

    and so this must be it. we must accept it or...what? or miss the boat, i suppose.


  7. ...20 years now, this poem has haunted me. As I go along the canyon rim of Love, looking deep into the abyss, and far above to the heights, I feel the weight of the Hand of Love, the great Heart of Love reaching down, down, into me, prying me open, cracking the hull loose.

    Is this where most of us dwell, in the holy "in between?"


"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!