Sunday, December 12, 2010

Poems From a Poet's Soul 2

Camera-man goes for a walk in the snow - December 2010
Once again these winter days, especially Sundays, I go for a walk with my brothers Patrick and Gerard.  This evening we walked through the grounds of Malahide Castle shortly before the half-light of twilight began inviting darkness to cover the cold land of winter Ireland.  Here and there, there were large mounds of ice and compacted snow, and in places where no sun ever gets the paths were still slippery with ice.  Walking is good for body and soul or for the body-soul if one takes it, as I do, that they are both unified in the oneness of the self, rather than some Cartesian inner dynamism that works like a battery in a clock. 

Once again, I should like to offer the readers of this blog another meditative poem from Rainer Maria Rilke, a poem about the very subject of my opening paragraph, i.e., a walk.

A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill,
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Galway Hooker, Kinvara, June 2008 - Ready for a soul-journey
Translated by Robert Bly
What I love about this poem is its sense of walking in the light, of journeying towards an onward destination.  I also like the fact of its mysteriousness and mystique.  It is not too clear as to what lies ahead save the image of the sunny hill, and perhaps the sunlight or even the sun itself is a symbol of inner personal truth or even of more overt theistic truth - for, our man, Rainer Maria Rilke was a staunch believer in God, whatever his Christian allegiances were.  However, not being a didact, he leaves out any doctrinaire sentiments, thankfully.  His continual lack of dogmatic and doctrinaire stances would have endeared him to his reading public.  Rilke is always more spiritual than religious, and this is what saves his poems from being in any sense partisan or doctrinaire.  Hence, they always have an edge and a mystery and a mystique about them.

As I have said this poem is about a journey, an inner as well as an outer journey.  Even if we do not get to our destination which is far away, but very much in sight, we are drawn thither as he expresses in these four wonderful lines: "So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;//it has inner light, even from a distance- //and changes us, even if we do not reach it, //into something else, which, hardly sensing it.."  These lines bring in a mystic touch, a soul-ful embrace, and yet, despite this mystic touch we feel the strong and bitter wind in our faces.  The soul, for Rilke, as for all modern psychology, can never be separated from the body which is uniquely intertwined with it.

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