For The Exhausted and Overwhelmed.
March 28, 2019 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower. A poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. Also A Loving-Kindness Meditation by Sylvia Boorstein. and then Beannacht, a poem by John O'Donohue.

Both the poems and the meditation along with some essays on coping at Onbeing.
posted by storybored (22 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
Beautiful poems!
posted by Oyéah at 10:29 AM on March 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Very nice. I have friends who are struggling a bit with life (like many of us these days) and have sent links to them. Great post!
posted by cybrcamper at 10:38 AM on March 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

On Being is a great site. I discovered it in 2017 when someone shared with me this wonderful piece by David Whyte. He reads it beautifully.
posted by dobbs at 11:50 AM on March 28, 2019 [5 favorites]

The Rilke poem is very beautiful and deep, but the audio file of it is disastrously sophomoric.
posted by Rumple at 12:04 PM on March 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just started my lunch break right now, and I just thought to myself, "I really need to take some deep breaths and come back to myself," because I feel so exhausted.

So that was perfect timing! Thanks
posted by honey badger at 12:14 PM on March 28, 2019

God, I needed this more than you know this morning. Thanks for your impeccable timing.
posted by potrzebie at 12:33 PM on March 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Timely and thank you.
posted by infini at 12:36 PM on March 28, 2019

As Audre Lorde said: poetry is not a luxury. These are lovely, thank you.
posted by wicked_sassy at 1:43 PM on March 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have been humming this for days, yet never knew the words. This is the lyrics of Dark Star, by The Grateful Dead. So beautiful in words and performance. I had a great morning, listening through a few versions of this, and some others. There is more than a couple of reasons they are so popular.

Dark star crashes, turning its light into ashes.
Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis.
Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion.
Shall we go, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

Mirror shatters in formless reflections of matter.
Glass hand dissolving to ice petal flowers revolving.
Lady in velvet recedes in the nights of goodbye.
Let us go then, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds.
posted by Oyéah at 1:56 PM on March 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Robert Hunter wrote the lyrics for the Grateful Dead song. I've long attributed the success of that band over so many years, at least in part, to Hunter's evocative lyrics!
posted by Agave at 2:04 PM on March 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

A dear friend shared Beannacht with me on the day my mother died. It buoyed me in my darkest moments. I've since shared it with many other friends in their grief.
posted by mykescipark at 2:18 PM on March 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not sure if I'm missing something else in the links/thread but Oyéah if you just happened to mentioned Robert Hunter here that's quite the coincidence! He made a "personal" translation of Rilke's Duino Elegies and Sonnets that he later published! And it just arrived at my house in the mail yesterday!

Here he is talking with Steve Silberman (author of Neurotribes and a huge deadhead) about the work, among other things. A wonderful quote from the interview:

HUNTER: I had just always liked Rilke, and I had never seen a translation that I cared a whole lot for. My wife went out one evening, and I felt drawn to reading the Duino Elegies, which I did from time to time, and I'd be saying, "That's not right. That's not right. The flow isn't right. This is too translational." I just took a pencil and looked over the German, and started making it sound the way I wanted to, with no intention whatsoever of translating Rilke. I worked on it a little more until I had what I thought was a pretty fair translation of the first elegy. Then just for kicks I continued, and did a little bit more, and I would say that I probably translated about half of the Duino Elegies before I realized that I was making a translation of the Duino Elegies. Then I got hot. I was sittin' up until 3:00 in the morning with good cognac, which I would put in the microwave every time it cooled off. I would sit there until Rilke would come and look over my shoulder and say, "No, it's not just like that. It's a bit more like this. Okay, now you got it," and like that. --See the hair stand up on my arm?
posted by stinkfoot at 2:25 PM on March 28, 2019 [9 favorites]

I love Rilke and used to read him in German. There is always time to become a Deadhead, I saw the poppies in Kern Canyon on Monday, and hippie school busses up there. Somewhere in that Dark Star jumped into my neural nets. Poetry is always with me. One way or another.
posted by Oyéah at 2:37 PM on March 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, I needed this very much today! Thank you! I am crying like a fool after that loving kindness meditation. Thanks.
posted by unicorn chaser at 3:47 PM on March 28, 2019

Again and Again

Again and again, however we know the landscape of love
and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,
and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others
fall: again and again the two of us walk out together
under the ancient trees, lie down again and again
among the flowers, face to face with the sky.

posted by Oyéah at 4:07 PM on March 28, 2019 [7 favorites]

O’Donoghue is new to me but I really like him.

Thanks for sharing: I know folks who are getting worn down and I will be passing some of these along.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:48 PM on March 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

The rhythm and rhyme of Rilke is lost in translation.
Stiller Freund der vielen Fernen, fühle,
wie dein Atem noch den Raum vermehrt.
Im Gebälk der finstern Glockenstühle
laß dich läuten. Das, was an dir zehrt,

wird ein Starkes über dieser Nahrung.
Geh in der Verwandlung aus und ein.
Was ist deine leidendste Erfahrung?
Ist dir Trinken bitter, werde Wein.

Sei in dieser Nacht ans Übermaß
Zauberkraft am Kreuzweg deiner Sinne,
ihrer seltsamen Begegnung Sinn.

Und wenn dich das Irdische vergaß,
zu der stillen Erde sag: Ich rinne.
Zu dem raschen Wasser sprich: Ich bin.
posted by adzm at 9:30 PM on March 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Poetry is notoriously difficult to translate, and Rilke is particularly difficult. I love his poem "Gott spricht zu jedem" from his "Book of Hours", and I once filled up a small notebook with attempted translations.

Each one got something right (rhythm, rhyme, word choices, overall feeling) at the expense of other qualities.

You can easily find the original, and many translations.
Here's the best one I came up with:

(Note, I am not religious, and you don't have to be to appreciate this poem)
 God speaks to everyone, just before they are made,
 Then, keeping silent, he walks them out of the night.
 But what are the words, before each beginning?
 Those nebulous words go like this:

 Sent by your senses, turned outward from here,
 go right up to your longing's edge.
 Give me a cloak

 Standing behind things, shoot up like a flame
 so that their shadows stretch out and
 always cover me completely.

 Let everything come to you, beauty and fears.
 One must just go on, no feeling is final.
 Don't let yourself ever be parted from me.

 Near is the land,
   the one that they call Life

 You will know what it is, 
   because it is earnest.

 Give me your hand.

posted by crazy_yeti at 5:36 AM on March 29, 2019 [6 favorites]

What's a good translation of Rilke's poems?

(I still have enough German to read them aloud, but not enough to get more than a crude estimate of the meaning. So the originals are almost pure sound to me -- which is delightful and complex and worth exploring, but unsatisfying.)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:09 AM on March 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is the Hunter translation I mentioned above.

It's also printed so the German is on left side and the translated English is on the right side facing it.
posted by stinkfoot at 8:54 AM on March 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

So many great translations are interpretive dialogues, you could say, or massive cauldrons of compromise in which if the translator doesn't add something new, or leave out some ingredients you get a tasteless gruel.

Think of John Felstiner's translation of Celan's "Deathsfugue" where the English translation veers back by the end to be spliced with German, it's like a mini-course in barely-intelligble oppression.
Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at midday Death is a master aus Deutschland
we drink you at evening and morning we drink and we drink
this Death is ein Meister aus Deutschland his eye it is blue
he shoots you with shot made of lead shoots you level and true
a man lives in the house your goldenes Haar Margarete
he looses his hounds on us grants us a grave in the air
he plays with his vipers and daydreams
der Tod is ein Meister aus Deutschland
dein goldenes Haar Margarete
dein aschenes Haar Shulamith
Or Christopher Logue's not-exactly-a-translation of the Iliad. "War Music"
Though it is noon, the helmet screams against the light; 
Scratches the eye; so violent it can be seen
Across three thousand years.

   Picture a yacht
   Canting at speed 
Over ripple-ribbed sand.
Change its mast to a man, 
Change its boom to a bow, 
Change its sail to a shield: 
Notice Merionez
Breasting the whalebacks to picket the corpse of Patroclus.
posted by Rumple at 1:18 PM on March 29, 2019

Thank you so much for these. Dark days for so many in so many places. These were a much needed balm.
posted by bardophile at 9:19 PM on March 30, 2019

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