"God's True Cloak" by Rainer Maria Rilke

translation by Joanna Macy + Anita Barrows


We must not portray you in king's robes,
you drifting mist that brought forth the morning.

Once again from the old paintboxes
we take the same gold for scepter and crown
that has disguised you through the ages.

Piously we produce our images of you
till they stand around you like a thousand walls.
And when our hearts would simply open,
our fervant hands hide you.

Book of Hours, I 4

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is a philospher of ecology and a scholar of Buddhism. Her translations include Rilke's Book of Hours and A Year with Rilke.