"Dear Darkening Ground" by Rainer Maria Rilke

translation by Joanna Macy + Anita Barrows


Dear darkening ground,
you've endured so patiently the walls we've built,
perhaps you'll give the cities one more hour

and grant the churches and cloisters two.
And those that labor—let their work
grip them another five hours, or seven,

before you become forest again, and water, and widening wilderness
in that hour of inconceivable terror
when you take back your name
from all things.

Just give me a little more time!

I want to love the things
as no one has thought to love them,
until they're worthy of you and real.

Book of Hours, I 61

Rilke in many of his early poems is "consoling God" says Joanna Macy. For her, this poem tells us that "it's okay not to be optimistic or full of hope," but the main thing is to show up and be present.

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