I live my life in widening circles

by Rainer Maria Rilke

English version by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
Original Language German

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not ever complete the last one,
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, that primordial tower.
I have been circling for thousands of years,
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

A difficult bout of chronic fatigue, but I'm rebounding. Exhaustion, begone! Shakiness, migraines, away with you! Poetry awaits...


I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world...

I circle around God, that primordial tower.


These images of circles and circling, revolving around a great center he names God, it makes me think of the cathedral labyrinths of Europe. Or the ancient spiral glyphs carved into rocks and cave faces. I see the circling pathway around some secret center. The road can be bewildering, twisting and turning, keeping us disoriented and uncertain of how near we are, but ever moving inward.

And that courageous line--

I may not ever complete the last one,
but I give myself to it.


We walk the winding path, not out of certainty, but because it is the only path worth walking. Walking that road, quietly, with attention, one foot in front of the other, becomes meditation. It becomes worship. Each ring, whether near or far, is a layer of our lives that is blessed by our passing through it.

Walking the circling path is not only the way to the center, it is actually part of the center. We learn to participate in the center by first walking the path. Obsession with the destination becomes an impediment to reaching it. Instead, by patiently inhabiting each step, we discover the center in ourselves... and our feet naturally end up there, as well.

We walk with our whole selves--

and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?


On this roundabout road to God, we encounter the mystery of self. And in that self beyond definition we find the primordial tower standing at the center.



Recommended Books: Rainer Maria Rilke

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke The Soul is Here for its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God In Praise of Mortality: Rilke's Duino Elegies & Sonnets to Orpheus
More Books >>





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