Before He Makes Each One by Rainer Maria Rilke

Before He Makes Each One

Before he makes each one
of us, God speaks.

Then, without speaking,
he takes each one
out of the darkness.

And these are the cloudy
words God speaks
before each of us begins:

“You have been sent out
by your senses. Go
to the farthest edge
of desire, and give me
clothing: burn like a great
fire so that the stretched-out
shadows of the things
of the world cover
me completely.
Let everything happen
to you: beauty and terror.
You must just go–
no feeling is the farthest
you can go. Don’t let
yourself be separated
from me. The country
called life is close.
By its seriousness,
you will know it.
Give me your hand.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke  ~

(Translated by Annie Boutelle, Metamorphoses Fall 2001)

First published in German in 1905, by Rainer Maria Rilke, as Das Stundenbuch, The Book of Hours: Prayers to a Lowly God. There are several translations, known as Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God. Here is another version, God speaks to each of us, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy.

Born: December 04, 1875 in Prague, Czech Republic
Died: December 29, 1926

Quotes by Rainer Maria Rilke

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

“The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.”

“The only journey is the one within.”

This idea was expressed more eloquently by American poet, lecturer and essayist (1803-1882) Ralph Waldo Emerson when he said: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” I wonder if Rilke read Emerson?

See Letters to a Young Poet Quotes.

Also see: Singing Image of Fire, a poem by Kukai, with thoughts on language, translation, and creation.

4 Responses to “Before He Makes Each One by Rainer Maria Rilke”

  1. Singing Image of Fire, a poem by Kukai, with thoughts on language, translation, and creation « The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] see: Before He Makes Each One by Rainer Maria Rilke. Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailMoreStumbleUponDiggRedditPrintLike this:Like3 bloggers like this […]


  2. spike mason Says:

    Just thought I’d comment on your post – as I thought you might be interested that I’ve released an album called “Widening Circles”. I have become totally smitten by Rilke and so the album features the english translation of a handful of the poems from the Book of Hours set to my compositions.
    You can watch a short film of the recording process
    here ==>
    You can have a listen to the album to see if you like it
    here ==>


  3. Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, Buddha in Glory, reminds us of our eternal nature within | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] Other poems by Rilke posted on The Uncarved Blog are: What Rainer Maria Rilke inscribed on the copy of The Duino Elegies he gave his Polish translator and Before He Makes Each One by Rainer Maria Rilke. […]


  4. Insights from Richard Wagamese’s Meditations | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] reminds me of what Raner Maria Rilke said in Letters to a Young […]


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