(excerpt for Earth
Praise the world to the
angel: leave the unsayable aside.
Your exalted feelings do not move
In the universe, where he feels feelings, you are a
Therefore show him what is ordinary, what has been
generation to generation, shaped by hand and eye.
Tell him of things.
He will stand still in astonishment,
the way you stood by the ropemaker in
or beside the potter on the Nile.
Show him how happy a thing can be,
how innocent and ours,
how even a lament takes pure form,
serves as a
thing, dies as a thing,
while the violin, blessing it, fades.
And the things, even as they
understand that we praise them.
Transient, they are trusting
to save them - us, the most transient of all.
As if they wanted in our
to be transformed
into - oh, endlessly - into
Earth, isn't this what you
want? To arise in us, invisible?
Is it not your dream, to enter us so
there's nothing left outside us to see?
What, if not
is your deepest purpose? Earth, my love,
I want that
too. Believe me,
no more of your springtimes are needed
to win me
over - even one flower
is more than enough. Before I was named
belonged to you. I seek no other law
but yours, and know I can
the death you will bring.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
(In Praise of Mortality,
trans. and edited Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)
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