November 4, 2011

Offering What We Are

Red Vineyards at Arles

Oh, the places we would pour ourselves over,
pushing into the meager surfaces
all the impulses of our heart, our desire, our need.
To whom in the end do we offer ourselves?

To the stranger, who misunderstands us,
to the other, whom we never found,
to the servant, who could not free us,
to the winds of spring, which we could not hold,
and to silence, so easy to lose.

Uncollected Poems


  1. Very beautiful—as is the wonderful painting with which the verse is paire—and very thought-provoking. What do we do with our heart's impulses, our desires, our needs—and to whom in the end do we offer ourselves? Have we squandered ourselves on strangers who misunderstood us, the mysterious other whom we never found, those who could never free us? Great questions like those which always seem to be at the heart of Rilke's writing.

  2. I know I haven't commented for a while on these wonderful Rilke posts, but feel moved to do so today.

    This is a profound and valuable meditation. It certainly makes me consider my recent Camino - and, indeed, my whole life. Perhaps we must offer ourselves, in the profoundest and most worthwhile way, without too much thought about the worthiness or hopelessness of the recipient of our offering? In the spirit of not expecting any return, any satisfaction, any glory or reward? Perhaps these 'meagre surfaces' contain hidden cracks and fissures, hidden depths? Or perhaps we are indeed spreading ourselves too nakedly and too emotionally over unfeeling and unworthy plains? I don't know the answer, and Rile doesn't give the answer in this poem, but I feel, instinctively, that we have to offer ourselves - regardless.


"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!