Here, Ms. Macy tells a story of how she came to translate this poem after a famous Rilke translator took a pass. And she reads her translation for us.
Joanna Macy is a philosopher of ecology, a Buddhist scholar, and an exquisite translator of the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. We take that poetry as a lens on her wisdom on spiritual life and its relevance for the political and ecological dramas of our time.
In her book A Year with Rilke, Joanna Macy chose one poem by Rilke for each day of the year. We interviewed her on July 13th, for which this poem "about death and how not to be afraid of death" was selected. A marvelous reading with a humorous anecdote about her deceased husband at the end.
Photo credit: Linda Colquhoun
For Ms. Joanna Macy, this poem exemplifies a way she could continue on a spiritual path while having misgivings about the Church fathers and arcane theological arguments.
While mourning the death of her husband, Joanna Macy felt like she was "dipped in beauty" while translating A Year with Rilke. Here's a passage from a letter the poet wrote to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouty in 1924 in which she took comfort in her own grief and loss.
In their conversation, Krista recites a line by Rilke in which she says she found resolve while creating this radio program. Ms. Macy reads this popular piece, which she says has become "theme song of the deep ecology movement."
From his last "Sonnet to Orpheus," Joanna Macy tells us that Rilke has chosen to be with the darkness rather than hide from it. And she shares how she finds resonance with our relationship to our planet.
In this poem Rilke is using images from the natural world, Ms. Macy says, to convey that mystery, beauty, and relationship in the sacred. Listen to her recitation and deeper explanation of this lyrical piece.
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