My writing pen is rusty. Poetry is far from me it seems. I can neither read nor write it with any relish. But there is a call to me from this poem of Rilke's. My being is not mute in response. With a halting post I open this quiet, spare place.
Times are not so different from Rilke's. WWI made a mess of the world, and now it is not much better, certainly. Maybe it is even worse in some ways, since one would have hoped for more improvement in a century. But what a century it has been!
First Rilke says that we are not poor exactly. It is just that we are not laden with riches, with things. Economic times are depleting our stores. But he says we are weighted with the dust and debris of our surroundings. We are outcasts. Broken, and without flesh even, barely alive. Even if I am not literally broken, it feels as if I could break easily and imminently.
But Rilke shifts, from poverty and brokenness in the first two stanzas, to something hopeful in the third. What does Earth do with broken things? She breaks them down even more. But is this what Rilke says? He does not. He says instead that if She needed to "she could weave us together like roses / and make of us a garland." Then he goes from plant matter, miraculously grown and woven by Earth, to ageless stones, smooth and clean. And from this to a newborn animal, eyes yet unopened, yet perceiving the only need worth needing: to be who we really are. No matter how many years and centuries pass, our bare essence remains unchanged.
We are not in our true state laden with things, whether the glitterati of the world, or the dust and debris of the earth. In our true state, the cleanness of washed stones, we can be made into roses and woven into a garland. Is this not reason to shake off attachments to material possessions and cares?