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; translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

4 thoughts on “Go to the limits of your longing 


  1. Pingback: Restorying my way from longing to belonging | Thriving on the Threshold

  2. Pingback: Practice being an instrument of peace | Thriving on the Threshold

  3. I love this Rilke poem. But is there any way around the male pronoun in the first line? or any pronoun? I understand that anthropomorphism adds relationship and warmth (it’s why Jesus insisted on referring to God as Daddy), but is there any human way to get this nuance/meaning without it?

  4. I know what you mean. It does perpetuate the stereotype. Given my immense respect for the translators, I tend to overlook it.
    What about “God whispers to each of us while making us”? Not sure how Rilke would feel about it, but it reads okay. Same number of syllables.
    Or, the old standby — just substitute “she” instead.

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