'Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower': a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke

a half moon sits against a dark blue sky framed by tree shadows | a poem for healthcare workers | Tempo therapy and Consulting

13 Sept 2023

The suffering in our country and in the world right now is so vast. Full and empty. Words seem trite. But in connecting with so many at this time, and in hearing the level of distress experienced, I'm wanting to offering acknowledgement of the depth of this pain. As healthcare workers, we hold our own responses, and sit with the pain of others. Sometimes it can be a double whammy. Art does not fix suffering but it can offer connection, acknowledgement and a moment of understanding. Action is required. And healing. I hope these words can offer something for you.

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'Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower'

A poem by Rainer Maria Rilke from 'Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29'. 

Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.

What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows. Source: On Being “A Wild Love for the World”

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Header image: Melanie Dretvic