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Rilke's Book of Hours

Love Poems to God
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Paperback Book
October, 2005
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$18.50 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

Your wholeness cascades into many shapes. You run like

a herd of luminous deer

and I am dark, I am forest.

After Rilke returned from Russia in the early years of the 20th century, he “received” a series of poems about which he did not speak for a long time, for he considered them sacred and different from anything else he ever had done and ever would do again. These love poems to God make up his Book of Hours. Rilke called them prayers, not poems. Now, in this 100th Anniversary Edition including both complete English and German text, they have been translated by Joanna Macy, a spiritual teacher (author of World as Lover, World as Self) and Anita Barrows, a poet and Jungian therapist. Barrows writes:

Rilke’s declaration is that our greatest summons is really to see the things of this world.

We are because we are seen; we are because we are loved. The world is because it is beheld and loved into being. On a silent retreat, while watching a line of ants traveling up a hillside, words came to me that I would repeat again and again in my mind: I am in the world to love the world. I knew, standing there in the parched summer grasses, how deeply the poems of The Book of Hours had already penetrated my being, speaking to me as instructions for living.


Through the empty branches the sky remains.

It is what you have.

Be earth now, and evensong.

Be the ground lying under that sky.

Be modest now, like a thing

ripened until it is real,

so that he who began it all

can feel you when he reaches for you.


Publisher’s Description: 

While visiting Russia in his twenties, Rainer Maria Rilke, one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets, was moved by a spirituality he encountered there. Inspired, Rilke returned to Germany and put down on paper what he felt were spontaneously received prayers. Rilke’s Book of Hoursis the invigorating vision of spiritual practice for the secular world, and a work that seems remarkably prescient today, one hundred years after it was written. Rilke’s Book of Hoursshares with the reader a new kind of intimacy with God, or the divine--a reciprocal relationship between the divine and the ordinary in which God needs us as much as we need God. Rilke influenced generations of writers with his Letters to a Young Poet, and now Rilke’s Book of Hourstells us that our role in the world is to love it and thereby love God into being. These fresh translations rendered by Joanna Macy, a mystic and spiritual teacher, and Anita Barrows, a skilled poet, capture Rilke’s spirit as no one has done before.

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