where it all began...

there are some beginnings that are firmly planted in my mind. the first time i met my niece and nephews. my first coffee {which happened to be an espresso}. the first time i went to a UofM football game. the first time i met my friend angie. i could go on...

but, for the life of me, i cannot remember the first time i was introduced to ranier maria rilke, who, for anyone new here, is my favorite poet. i don't remember when it was that i was introduced to the man watching, my very favorite poem in all of the world. i am happy, however, that i loved and appreciated rilke long before i knew that he was auguste rodin's personal secretary, and lived in paris...otherwise i may think that my admiration was partly circumstantial.

i've been thinking about rilke much of the day, partly because i've begun reading his diaries of a young poet, and partly because when i am in the midst of internal struggle, his words most seem to resonate what echoes inside. and since i have noticed that i don't believe i've ever posted my favorite poem, and because with unfailing certainty my heart goes back here, tonight i will leave you with this perfect gem.
the man watching
by rainer maria rilke

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can't bear without a friend,
I can't love without a sister

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it's with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestler's sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.


Anonymous said...

Hi my sweet friend! I remember meeting you, too, Suzi. Hard to believe it was so long ago. I'm so thankful for the blessing of your friendship, Suzi!

hannabelle said...

That was good poetry...

And it was you that introduced me to the world of Rilke through your blog. I'm just starting to discover these gems and I have you to thank!

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