October 6, 2011

Here is where I used to lie

Turning Point
Rainer Maria Rilke, translated from German by Stephen Mitchell

The road from intensity to greatness
passes through sacrifice.

For a long time he attained it in looking.
Stars would fall to their knees
beneath his compelling vision.
Or as he looked on, kneeling,
his urgency's fragrance
tired out a god until
it smiled at him in its sleep.

Towers he would gaze at so
that they were terrified:
building them up again, suddenly, in an instant!
But how often the landscape,
overburdened by day,
came to rest in his silent awareness, at nightfall.

Animals trusted him, stepped
into his open look, grazing,
and the imprisoned lions
stared in as if into an incomprehensible freedom;
birds, as it felt them, flew headlong
through it; and flowers, as enormous
as they are to children, gazed back
into it, on and on.

And the rumour that there was someone
who knew how to look,
stirred those less
visible creatures:
stirred the women.

Looking how long?
For how long now, deeply deprived,
beseeching in the depths of his glance?

When he, whose vocation was Waiting, sat far from home--
the hotel's distracted unnoticing bedroom
moody around him, and in the avoided mirror
once more the room, and later
from the tormenting bed
once more:
then in the air the voices
discussed, beyond comprehension,
his heart, which could still be felt;
debated what through the painfully buried body
could somehow be felt--his heart;
debated and passed their judgment:
that it did not have love.

(And denied him further communions.)

For there is a boundary to looking.
And the world that is looked at so deeply
wants to flourish in love.

Work of the eyes is done, now
go and do heart-work
on all the images imprisoned within you; for you
overpowered them: but even now you don't know them.
Learn, inner man, to look at your inner woman,
the one attained from a thousand
natures, the merely attained but
not yet beloved form

It's been a frustrating, stressful 2 weeks. I know by Monday I'd have produced an 8p paper on how sight and sound in Wyatt's translation of Psalms 51, a memo to Apple's sustainability director on how Apple can improve its sustainability report in 2012, and finished studying for my managerial accounting midterm on Tuesday, but right now I really don't know how that's going to happen.

Image from Japanese artist Yuken Teruya's "Minding My Own Business," a response to the Japanese tsunami.
"His intention was to let the new sprouts grow from the surface of the newspaper that document the tragic stories. Even when the whole country is shaken by the disaster, time passes, Spring comes and new lives start"

Hearing all these sad news about friends' family members passing away, the Cupertino shootings, Steve Jobs' passing away- they put my little insignificant stresses and upset feelings to shame and into perspective.

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