November 15, 2011

Onto a Vast Plain

Winter Garden, by Vincent van Gogh

Summer was like your house: you know
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.

The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.

Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.

From The Book of Hours II, 1


  1. oh jesus. how do i sleep now?
    Be modest now, like a thing
    ripened until it is real

    the other day i had the thought, the real thought, the realest, and found myself upon that plain. what a disturbingly clean landscape.

    friggen rilke. i laugh. i'd punch him in the arm right about now.

    good night,

  2. I'm with Erin, here Lorenzo. These words from Rilke: 'Be modest now, like a thing
    ripened until it is real.'

    I blush for shame, and at the same time feel strangely uplifted. It's a privilege to read such words. Thank you.

  3. Summer was . . . but now you must go out into your heart . . . where there is loneliness and numb days . . . where the world is sucked from your senses . . . but you still have the sky, and you can still be the earth and evensong, still be modest, still be real, and still be felt by that which reaches for you. Magnificent thoughts that resonate deeply, perhaps most deeply with those who have lived for many years.

  4. Wow. Thank goodness for the last stanza...if I'd only read the first two, I'd feel inclined to put my head down on my desk and simply howl. But, that laying bare, that emptiness that eventually leads to the explosion of spring, it's what I love about having four real seasons. If you have the good fortune to live with them, I find you don't take those spring and summer months for granted. ....And this is just on the external..not even touching what George said...the infernal internal landscape! Ala Erin, friggen Rilke!


"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!