Go to the Limits of Your Longing

I came across this old poem from long ago, the one that my mentor in college ripped from her Rilke’s Book of Hours, and mailed to me in a letter. I tacked it to every bedroom wall I lived within for many years. Now I’m unsure of where that tattered page could be. Yet, words are recovered. If ever there was a reason to learn German, it is to be able to read Rilke in his original voice:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.

Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

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