Oct 02 2009

Rainer Maria Rilke – As once the winged energy of delight

Published by at 10:27 am under Poetry

As once the winged energy of delight
by Rainer Maria Rilke

English version by Stephen Mitchell

As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood’s dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.

Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.

To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions… For the god
wants to know himself in you.

— from Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

/ Photo by u07ch /

My apologies — I’m running late today after a morning spent troubleshooting problems with phone lines. Phones and email should now be working again… So how about a poem for this Friday?


So many lines in this poem by Rilke just dance, don’t they?

As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood’s dark abysses…

The “winged energy of delight” carrying us over “childhood’s dark abysses.” Mm.

…now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges

You know, I could go line by line through this poem, and merely rotate my responses with “Wow!” and “Wonderful!” and “Love that!”

Why don’t I let you do that instead.

Once we’ve gotten past that reaction, then we can begin to hear what he’s really saying.

For the god
wants to know himself in you.

Have a blessed weekend! (Me, I’m going for a drive in the mountains to be among the aspens at their golden peak…)

Rainer Maria Rilke, Rainer Maria Rilke poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Rainer Maria Rilke

Germany (1875 – 1926) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Rainer Maria Rilke – As once the winged energy of delight”

  1. Lucienneon 02 Oct 2009 at 12:58 pm


    It was Godsent.

    It was the perfect answer to me on an emotion I was feeling.
    On that same subject regarding this feeling, it was Rilke that touched me before years ago so deeply.

    I keep being amazed at life’s synchronicities.

    Thank you,

  2. maryann moonon 02 Oct 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Dear Ivan, The last line is the amazing one, for the

    idea that the Mighty God wants to understand and know

    Himself more in you & me- is most astonishing. The

    almost imponderable Glory that God is, chooses to know

    more and more about Himself /Herself through-in you

    and me. How sacred is your life when we “get” this

    idea. Ah, and I remember those exquisitely golden

    aspens in Colorado, it’s wondrously autumn now!

    your blessings are many.


  3. mariaon 02 Oct 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Just the past few days I have gone from knowing that what is outside is also inside of me, and have realized that that includes God…and here you have confirmed that. Amazing “coincidence.” Thank you Ivan..
    Best to you-

  4. jagon 03 Oct 2009 at 12:05 am

    Ivan, lucky you… and the aspen. lol

  5. Rena Navonon 03 Oct 2009 at 3:59 am

    “Childhood’s deep abysses” must be the fears the youngest of humanities suffer by being helpless.
    These are experienced before they know what the dangers of living really consist of.
    Can the fear of falling inherited instinctively prepare them for later life when accidents can bring much more harm to the body as aging people? Will fear mature into caution and protect them when life might treat them with a finality never grasped by the young?
    Rilke never grew old in his mind and speaks more willingly about children. I love to read his poetry. But now getting older, I am tempted to read my sufferings into the provocative line about the abyss.
    The “harshest danger” must certainly be death, still ahead of me and this courageous poem must certainly have something to do with it. I believe this unique poet is indirectly helping me to reconcile me with the inevitable end I am only a beginner at grappling with.

  6. dog joint painon 28 Jan 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Yes! Finally someone writes about hand pain.

  7. Jonathan Solomonon 30 Jun 2015 at 11:41 am

    This was my sister’s favorite poem. Here is a link to her gravestone, which you might like…


  8. Bela Johnsonon 22 Sep 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Aloha Ravi:

    Love this. Have long loved Rilke – how brilliantly and with what clarity he conveyed the deepest wisdom to others through his lyrical writing. And though like many of his time he might have considered God to somehow be separate than himself, sometimes I wonder. Like Hafiz, perhaps he understood “The Beloved” to simply be an aspect of himself at its best.

    Thanks for finding me and commenting on my blog at belajohnson.com. I am only sorry you don’t have a WordPress website so I can easily follow your future posts.

    Take care,

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