I read Rilke, I thought Rumi.

In my mind, I have often defined and sometimes reduced mystical poetry in its more lyrical form to sufi poems from the likes of Rumi, Hafez, Emre, Iqbal, and so on. Yet, after broadening the horizons of my literary readings, I realized that themes that were introduced, developped or expended in sufi poetry are very much universal, and are often shared by other faiths, and hence, by non muslim/sufi poets. If I had to choose a book that would best represent this similiraty between mystical poems written by non-sufi poets, I would definately choose ‘The Book of hours’ by Rainer Maria Rilke. And If I had just one poems to pick out of this book, it would be : ‘I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone’ (shared below).

“I am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough
to make every moment holy.
I am too tiny in this world, and not tiny enough
just to lie before you like a thing,
shrewd and secretive.
I want my own will, and I want simply to be with my will,
as it goes toward action;
and in those quiet, sometimes hardly moving times,
when something is coming near,
I want to be with those who know secret things
or else alone.
I want to be a mirror for your whole body,
and I never want to be blind, or to be too old
to hold up your heavy and swaying picture.
I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere,
because where I am folded, there I am a lie.
and I want my grasp of things to be
true before you. I want to describe myself
like a painting that I looked at
closely for a long time,
like a saying that I finally understood,
like the pitcher I use every day,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that carried me
through the wildest storm of all.”

If I didnt know who had written this poem, I would have thought it to be a Coleman Barks translation of Rumi in english.


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