Rainer Maria Rilke

I have been spending some time reading about Rainer Maria Rilke, a poet whose poems I have never loved as much as critics and other readers.

I have read his Book of Hours: Love Poems to God which was inspired by a trip to Russia where he found a “spirituality he encountered there.” Back in Germany, he set down what he felt were “spontaneously received prayers.”

The other book I have is The Duino Elegies which is often described as “ecstatic.” It was inspired by a trip to Italy, but he wrote it in Switzerland where he spent the last years of his life.

I find his life interesting though and that did send me back to read more of the poems. I know lots of writers list his Letters to a Young Poet as a life-changer. The book I read most recently is about him and is also some of his poems.

A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke is a reading from Rilke for every day of the year, including poetry, prose and his letters and journals. Not a book of hours, but a book of days, which slips nicely on a virtual shelf with this website.

Rilke is far more concerned with achieving intimacy with God, or the divine, than I am. That’s a relationship I don’t find to be reciprocal, but I can be interested in his quest.

My little Rilke poem on this site was inspired by a cliff walk I took and by Rilke’s poem below.


A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.

going far ahead of the road I have begun.

So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;

it has inner light, even from a distance –

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,

into something else, which, hardly sensing it,

we already are; a gesture waves us on

answering our own wave…

but what we feel is the wind in our faces.


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