I’ve enjoyed posting poetry series themed around the Christian year in the past couple of years (see “Poetry for Lent” and “Poetry for Easter“). I will continue that with a series called “Poetry for Ordinary Time.” Ordinary time includes two sections of the church year between Christmastide and Lent and Easter and Advent. The word “ordinary” here derives from the word ordinal by which the weeks are counted. Still, ordinary time does serve an opportunity to embrace the ordinary spaces and places of our lives, and the themes of the poems will express this.
Here is Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “It’s Possible” taken from his Das Stundenbuch or A Book for the Hours of Prayer. This rendering of the poem was translated by Robert Bly. Rilke was a 19th and 20th century German poet whose lyrical style often explored themes of the inner life.
It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,
and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.
I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief—
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you.
Previous poems in this series:
- C. S. Lewis, “Evensong”
- Tomas Tranströmer, “Open and Closed Spaces”
- James Weldon Johnson, “The Creation”
- Denise Levertov, “Living”
- Wang Wei, “Morning, Sailing into Xinyang”
- Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Pied Beauty”
- Mary Oliver, “The Kingfisher”
- Osip Mandelstam, “Consider the River”
- Kwame Dawes, “Peach Picking”
- Anna Kamieńska, “A Prayer That Will Be Answered”
- Judah al-Harizi, “The Sun”
- Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things”
- Tu Fu, “Clear After Rain”
- John Milton, “On His Blindness”