My Top 10 Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke #WorldPoetryDay

by | Mar 21, 2017 | Creative Stuff | 0 comments

It’s World Poetry Day. I’d like to share some of the poems by Ranier Maria Rilke. He’s one of my literary pantheons and his “Letters to a Young Poet” has been instrumental in my writing (and creative) life.

I’m also reading “A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Ranier Maria Rilke” translated and edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Borrows as part of my morning rituals for some inspiration.

These poems were taken from the daily readings.


top 10 poems by rilke

Shining in the Distance

Already my gaze is upon the hill, the sunlit one.
The way to it, barely begun, lies ahead.
So we are grasped by what we have not grasped,
full of promise, shining in the distance.

It changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something we barely sense, but are;
a movement beckons, answering our movement…
But we just feel the wind against us.

– Uncollected Poems

Threshold of Spring

Harshness gone. All at once caring spreads over
the naked gray of the meadows.
Tiny rivulets sing in different voices.
A softness, as if from everywhere,
is touching the earth.
Paths appear across the land and beckon.
Surprised once again you sense
its coming in the empty tree.

– Uncollected Poems

Springtimes Have Needed You

Springtimes have needed you.
And there are stars expecting you to notice them.
From out of the past, a wave rises to meet you
the way the strains of a violin
come through an open window
just as you walk by.

As if it were all by design.
But are you the one designing it?

– From the First Duino Elegy

poems by rainer maria rilke

We, When We Feel, Evaporate

We, when we feel, evaporate.
We breathe ourselves out and gone.
Like the glow of an ember,
the fragrance we give off grows weaker.
One could well say to us,
“You have entered my blood,
this room, this springtime is full of you…”
What use is that when he cannot hold us
and we disappear into him and around him?

– From the Second Duino Elegy

Widening Circles

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know; am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

– The Book of Hours I,2

Lifting My Eyes

Lifting my eyes from the book, from the tightly sequenced lines
to the full and perfect night;
Oh how like the stars my buried feelings break free,
as if a bouquet of wildflowers
had come untied;

The upswing of the light ones, the bowing sway of the heavy ones
and the delicate ones’ timid curve.
Everywhere joy in relation and nowhere grasping;
world in abundance and earth enough.

– Uncollected Poems

The Impermanence We Are

It seems
our own impermanence is concealed from us.
The trees stand firm, the houses we live in
are still there. We alone
flow past it all, an exchange of air.

Everything conspires to silence us,
partly with shame,
partly with unspeakable hope.

– From the Second Duino Elegy

creative writer who loves rilke

As the Century Ends

I’m living just as the century ends.

A great leaf, that God and you and I
have covered with writing
turns now, overhead, in strange hands.
We feel the sweep of it like a wind.

We see the brightness of a new page
where everything yet can happen.

Unmoved by us, the fates take its measure
and look at one another, saying nothing.

– The Book of Hours I,8


Center, how from all things
you gather yourself. Even from those that fly
you take yourself back, Center, strongest one.

Those who stand can feel how gravity
plunges through them, like a drink through thirst.

Yet from the sleeper,
gravity drifts like rain
from unhurried clouds.

– Uncollected Poems

poems by rainer rilke

The Apple Orchard (I)

Come now as the sun goes down.
See how evening greens the grass.
Is it not as though we had already gathered it
and saved it up inside us,

so that now, from feelings and memories,
from new hope and old pleasures,
all mixed with inner darkness,
we fling it before us under the trees.

– New Poems