Today is my birthday. Since I’d like to make it to 100, I now have nearly as many birthdays left to celebrate as have been given to me. This may seem trite, but looking back it is clear that life is a series of lives, chapters, so to speak. And for these and their marked up, underlined and dog-eared pages, I am grateful.
I’ve mentioned before my admiration, actually, my love for the words of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. He has been recognized as the most “lyrically intense” German poet, and while my knowledge of German poetry actually begins and ends with Rilke (perhaps I need to get out more), I have to agree. The editors of the book, A Year with Rilke (which everyone should have in their library, by the way), have chosen a perfect poem for today, and for all days:
Lyrical intensity, indeed.
Does Time, as it passes, really destroy?
It may rip the fortress from its rock;
but can this heart, that belongs to God,
be torn from Him by circumstance?
Are we as fearfully fragile
as Fate would have us believe?
Can we ever be severed
from childhood’s deep promise?
Ah, the knowledge of impermanence
that haunts our days
is their very fragrance.
We in our striving think we should last forever,
but could we be used by the Divine
if we were not ephemeral?
—Sonnets to Orpheus II, 27