“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Power of Poetry

Somebody once defined poetry as "the best words in the best order" and I have to agree. I have just been introduced to the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke (specifically his Book of Hours: Love Poems to God in a lovely translation by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy) and have been blown away by them.

Rainer Maria Rilke

So many beautiful images, which really speak to my condition. Reading slowly through the book this morning was a huge pleasure, and I feel spiritually nourished. Let me share just one of his poems:

"I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?"

Most of the poems are quite short, but are deceptively deep, conjuring up some beautiful images of the relationship between God and humankind. The only other poet who has had this effect on me is Hafiz, the great 14th century Sufi master, whose poetry is likewise intimate and challenging at one and the same time. And I am filled with gratitude for this gift.

Dear God,
Thank you for giving us the power to create,
and to share with each other,
words which delight and inspire.

And thank you for poets,
whose words can ravish our hearts and minds,
shaking up our images of the world,
so that they fall in a new and different pattern,
enriching our lives.

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