A Year with Rilke, Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke, translated and edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows is a dog eared post it noted “bible” that I go to often for inspiration. Although the book is composed as a daily reader, rarely does the poem of the day have anything to do with what I am painting or contemplating. However, as the year ends and the frequency of the statement, “I’m ready for this year to be over” resounds from others, I’ve been reflecting on how it really was the best of times and the worst of times for me and my family this year. The winds of change blew our way and we had to make really tough choices and big changes. But in that struggle there was so much goodness, so many gifts and blessings and such a change of perspective that these words by Rilke–today’s entry–resonate strongly with my situation. The polarity of life–how there is no understanding of its riches without a walk through austerity–is a message that is expressed across many platforms and belief systems. Here is Rilke’s take on it, from the Sonnets to Orpheus I, 9.
Only he who lifts his lyre in the Underworld as well many come back to praising, endlessly.
Only he who has eaten the food of the dead will make music so clear that even the softest tone is heard.
Though the reflection in the pool often ripples away, take the image within you.
Only in the double realm do our voices carry all they can say.