Tuesday, December 25, 2007


If you lacked simplicity, how then
should this fall to you that midnight skies
are ashine with? God, who stormed at men,
mild in you now comes to mortal eyes.

That he’s not more great – does this surprise?

What is greatness? Sweepingly his fate
cuts across all human measurings.
No star, even, has a path so straight.
Look, these coming now are great, these kings

dragging to your lap, as presents, things

which, they hold, are greater far than all.
Maybe they astound you, gifts like these –
look, though, how within your folded shawl
he excels already all one sees.

Amber, shipped across great distances,

golden ornaments and fragrant spice
such as makes the heavy senses swim:
these were pleasures over in a trice,
and regretted when their power grew dim.

But (as you will see): joy comes of him.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

(from The Life of Mary, tr. J.B. Leishman)

Image source


Madscribe said...

Since you were on a Chesterton tear, I was expecting one of his:

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.

Rodak said...

Very nice. Thank you, Madscribe.
They were on a Chesterton Christmas poetry kick at What's Wrong With the World, so I thought I'd do something different.