Feb 03 2014

Rainer Maria Rilke – I live my life in widening circles

Published by at 9:55 am under Poetry

I live my life in widening circles
by Rainer Maria Rilke

English version by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

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?


/ Photo by striatic /

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.






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 – I live my life in widening circles”

  1. Lucienne Naber (Alluvja)on 03 Feb 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Ivan,

    Hope you feel better soon,energized and healed.

    Not much to add except that I just love today’s poem poem and somehow it speaks volumes to me. but then again Rilke usually does.

    I was intending to share it on FB via your site there but I noticed it’s not posted there (yet). So will share anyway but of course will add your FB link there :)

    Always in gratitude for the wonderful poetry you share with the world.
    Blessings,

    Lucienne

  2. Monica Armaninoon 03 Feb 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Ivan,

    First, prayers for a quick recovery with bout of illness. You are a blessing and a gift for your knowledge and vision for poetry.

    You inspire us to see a higher plane.

    Don’t push yourself…Be attentive to listening to your mind and body.

    Thanks & Blessings
    Monica

  3. Suzanneon 03 Feb 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Dear Ivan,

    I have not written to you in a long time!! I sure hope you feel much better soon!!! The last phrase is soo warm and encouraging for me ” 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. ”
    Thank you !! Please take good care on yourself . we need you!!!
    Love, Suzanne
    ~•๑♥ʚįɞ♥๑•~

  4. Annon 03 Feb 2014 at 10:16 pm

    So sorry to hear you have been through another CFS bout – and you would know (as I learnt with mine some 20 years ago) that there is nothing to be done but to become even more contemplative. May healing surround you.
    Love the latest Rilke poem. Yes, there is nothing for it but to place our feet on the journey, for however long it lasts and wherever it takes us.
    With gratitude.
    Ann

  5. Joanon 03 Feb 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Ivan,

    I hope you are recovering your light and energy! As someone else said, you are a gift and a blessing. Be well.

    Thank you for your work, your insight. Rest. Be well.

    We are all the falcon, we are each the song.

    All will be well!
    With great appreciation,
    Joan

  6. Carolon 04 Feb 2014 at 5:28 am

    Thank you, Ivan

    This Rilke poem, so perfect now. Take care and thankful healing is coming.
    You are a blessing to us all.

  7. Aravindaon 05 Feb 2014 at 10:18 am

    What a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing it, Ivan.

    Warmly,

    Aravinda

  8. rosellen littleon 05 Mar 2014 at 3:03 am

    hope you feel rested soon
    appreciate your thoughts on this poem
    i overdo things so much
    hard to know when to stop

    hope you know to rest

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