I am praying again, Awesome One

by Rainer Maria Rilke

English version by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
Original Language German

I am praying again, Awesome One.

You hear me again, as words
from the depths of me
rush toward you in the wind.

I've been scattered in pieces,
torn by conflict,
mocked by laughter,
washed down in drink.

In alleyway I sweep myself up
out of garbage and broken glass.
With my half-mouth I stammer you,
who are eternal in your symmetry.
I lift to you my half-hands
in wordless beseeching, that I may find again
the eyes with which I once beheld you.

I am a house gutted by fire
where only the guilty sometimes sleep
before the punishment that devours them
hounds them out into the open.

I am a city by the sea
sinking into a toxic tide
I am strange to myself, as though someone unknown
had poisoned my mother as she carried me.

It's here in all the pieces of my shame
that now I find myself gain.
I yearn to belong to something, to be contained
in an all-embracing mind that sees me
as a single thing.
I yearn to be held
in the great hands of your heart--
oh let them take me now.

Into them I place these fragments, my life,
and you, God -- spend them however you want.

-- from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, by Rainer Maria Rilke / Translated by Joanna Macy

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I am praying again