Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.
And his children say blessings on him
as if he were dead.
And another man,
who remains inside his own house,
dies there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children
have to go far out into the world
toward that same church
which he forgot.
Sometime in the 1980's, someone gave me a collection of Rilke translated by Robert Bly, and I find he is still my favorite translator of the German mystical poet. In graduate school I did a performance with synthesizer based on this beautiful poem, and a series I called "Landscapes from Rilke". Yesterday the poem popped into my head. I had been thinking, while driving around on seemingly endless errands, that I have become too resigned, I have perhaps traded too much "mature realism" for the spiritual quest that used to animate my art and life. Although it was broad daylight, I noticed, as I parked, that the interior light above the dashboard was on. I'm pretty certain I didn't turn it on, especially since it was day, but it's always possible. I like to think of it as a little tweak from my guides or angels, or at least my unconscious, trying to get my attention by demonstrating a "light bulb going on".Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Robert Bly