Love Sublime Poem Text

Seven Songs from Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Book of Hours: Love Poems to God”

English translation by Anita Barrows and Joanna R. Macy

I, 44

Your first word was light,
and time began. Then for long you were silent.

Your second word was man, and fear began,
which grips us still.

Are you about to speak again?
I don’t want your third word.

Sometimes I pray: Please don’t talk.
Let all your doing be by gesture only.
Go on writing in faces and stone
what your silence means.

You be our refuge from the wrath
that drove us out of Paradise.

Be our Shepard, but never call us ─
We can’t bear to know what’s ahead.


I, 1

The hour is striking so close above me,
so clear and sharp,
that all my senses ring with it.
I feel it now: there’s a power in me
to grasp and give shape to my world.

I know that nothing has ever been real
without my beholding it.
All becoming has needed me.
My looking ripens things
And they come toward me, to meet and be met.


I, 5

I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that’s wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a gravesite
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots

a dream once lost
among sorrows and songs.


I, 25

I love you, gentlest of Ways
who ripened us as we wrestled with you.

You, the great homesickness we could never shake
you, the forest that always surrounded us,

you, the song we sang in every silence, 
you dark net threading through us,

on the day you made us you created yourself,
and we grew sturdy in your sunlight…

Let your hand rest on the rim of Heaven now
And mutely bear the darkness we bring over you.


II, 11

No one lives his life.

Disguised since childhood,
Haphazardly assembled
From voices and fears and little pleasures,

We come of age as masks.
Our true face never speaks.

Somewhere there must be storehouses
where all these lives are laid away
like suits of armor or old carriages
or clothes hanging limply on the walls.

Maybe all paths lead there,
to the repository of unlived things.


II, 6

His caring is a nightmare to us,
and his voice a stone.

We would like to heed his words,
but we only half hear them.
The big drama between us
Makes too much noise
for us to understand each other.

We watch his lips moving,
shaping sounds that die away.
We feel endlessly distant,
though we are endlessly bound by love.
Only when we notice that he is dying
do we know he lived.


II, 7

Extinguish my eyes, I’ll go on seeing you.
Seal my ears, I’ll go on hearing you.
And without feet I can make my way to you,
without a mouth I can swear your name.

Break off my arms, I’ll take hold of you
with my heart as with a hand.
Stop my heart, and my brain will start to beat.
And if you consume my brain with fire,

I’ll feel you burn in every drop of my blood.


Three Songs from Louise Bogan’s “The Blue Estuaries”

Tears in Sleep

All night the cocks crew, under a moon like day,
And I, in the cage of sleep, on a stranger’s breast,
Shed tears, like a task not to be put away –
In the false light, false grief in my happy bed,
A labor of tears, set against joy’s undoing.
I would not wake at your word, I had tears to say.
I clung to the bars of the dream and they were said,
And pain’s derisive hand had given me rest
From the night giving off flames, and the dark renewing.


Do not guard this as rich stuff without mark
Closed in a cedarn dark,
Nor lay it down with tragic masks and greaves,
Licked by the tongues of leaves.

Nor let it be as eggs under the wings
Of helpless, startled things,
Nor encompassed by songs, nor any glory
Perverse and transitory.

Rather, like shards and straw upon coarse ground,
Of little worth when found,–
Rubble in gardens, it and stones alike,
That any spade may strike.


A Tale

This youth too long has heard the break
Of waters in a land of change.
He goes to see what suns can make
From soil more indurate and strange.

He cuts what holds his days together
And shuts him in, as lock on lock:
The arrowed vane announcing weather,
The tripping racket of a clock;

Seeking, I think, a light that waits
Still as a lamp upon a shelf,–
A land with hills like rocky gates
Where no sea leaps upon itself.

But he will find that nothing dares
To be enduring, save where, south
Of hidden deserts, torn fire glares
On beautry with a rusted mouth,–

Where something dreadful and another
Look quietly upon each other.


Love Sublime - Words by Fleurine

Take me by the hand, we’ll go –
into dreamlike space.
No one else will find us there,
We’re in our secret place…
Weightlessly I’ll dance with you
the oldest dance –
Love sublime.

You will find no tomorrow there
nor a yesterday.
Free from time we’ll spread our wings
and lit with love, I’ll fly with you...
Die close to you.

Words by Fleurine