I’m still the one who knelt before you
in monk’s robes, wanting to be of use.
You filled him as he called you into being–
a voice from a quiet cell
with the world blowing past.
And you are ever again the wave
sweeping through all things.
That’s all there is. Only an ocean
where now and again islands appear.
That’s all there is: no harps, no angels.
And the one before whom all things bow
is the one without a voice.
Are you, then, the All? and I the separated one
who tumbles and rages?
Am i not the whole? Am I not all things
when i weep, and you the single one, who hears it?
Listen–don’t you hear something?
Aren’t there voices other than mine?
Is that a storm? I am one also,
whipping the trees to call to you.
Are you distracted from hearing me
by some whining little tune?
That’s mine as well–hear mine as well;
it’s lonely and unheard.
I’m the one who’s been asking you–
it hurts to ask–Who are you?
I am orphaned
each time the sun goes down.
I can feel cast out from everything
and even churches look like prisons.
That’s when I want you–
you knower of my emptiness,
you unspeaking partner to my sorrow–
that’s when I need you, God, like food.
Maybe you don’t know what the nights are like
for people who can’t sleep.
They all feel guilty–
the old man, the young woman, the child,
They’re driven through darkness as though condemned,
their pale hands writhing; they’re twisted
like a pack of frenzied hounds.
What’s past lies still ahead,
and the future is finished.
God, every night is like that.
Always there are some awake,
who turn, turn, and do not find you.
Don't you hear them blindly treading the dark?
Don't you hear them crying out
as they go farther and farther down?
Surely you hear them weep; for they are weeping.
I seek you, because they are passing
right by my door.
Whom should I turn to,
if not the one whose darkness
is darker than night, the only one
who keeps vigil with no candle,
and is not afraid –
the deep one, whose being I trust,
for it breaks through the earth into trees,
when I bow my head,
faint as fragrance
from the soil.
(Book of Hours, II, 3)
just found one of my old favorite books in a pile of things, as I look through our bee equipment, sorting and remembering and missing. Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, with this piece bookmarked, though I don't remember having read it.