Archive for January 3rd, 2022

Go to the Limits…

GC Myers-  Symphony of Silence  2021

 Symphony of Silence — At the Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA

Go to the Limits of Your Longing

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

–Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, I 59

The Book of Hours was a collection of poem written between 1899 and 1903 by Rainer Maria Rilke. Modern editions add a subtitle: Love Poems to God.

The title is derived from the name given to devotional books from the Middle Ages that lay out the year in a calendar that included both sacred and pastoral imagery, prayers and mass readings for feast days, among other devotion related items. I have written about some of these devotionals from the Middle Ages here in the past, including the beautifully illustrated edition from the Limbourg Brothers.

Though I don’t have any affiliation or leanings towards any organized religion, I find this period of Rilke’s work very compelling. It is beautifully expressed, as is most of Rilke’s work, and speaks to even those of us who don’t view the concept of god in the same way as those who adhere to the dogmas and customs of traditional religion.

And that’s saying a lot.

A few lines of this particular poem, Go to the Limits of Your Longing, were shown at the end of the Taika Waititi film, JoJo Rabbit:

Rilke Lines JojoRabbit

These lines worked well there and the rest of the poem speaks in a beautiful way of finding some inner power in the act of pushing yourself a bit further beyond your comfort zones.

Something we all need to do.

Here’s a favorite song that was used in JoJo Rabbit. It’s Everybody’s Gotta Live from Arthur Lee and Love. The rendition below is a bit different from the one used in the film. It is an outtake that was recorded but was not chosen to be the released version. I think it’s a really strong version of the song and it pairs fairly well with Rilke’s word.

Give a listen. Then head out to the limits of your own longing.

It might not be as far off as you think…

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