mountain clouds

Mountain Clouds
, the Alps.

This photoraph was made almost a vertical kilometer, at about 2,700 meters,
above treeline. This is a magical place, where everything seems reduced to essence:
Cloud; Rock; Snow; Glacier; Solitary flower. Here, we are evidently as close to the
primordial as we can come. And here, time -- that bane of current city life --
slows down and lets more space flow in.

I've always felt that if one can say or read a poem aloud here and feel it resonate
freely out beyond oneself into the world, one knows the poem is good.

Here's a little masterpiece by Rainer Maria Rilke, from his last
major completed work, the Sonnets to Orpheus [1922]. It helps
to know perhaps that these poems were composed not very far from
the place pictured here.

How do we know it's a good poem? Well, we could begin with the
last phrase,
Only the song over the land / hallows and rejoices.
I think that is somehow exactly right. But, of course, one shouldn't
take my word for it. Learn the poem by heart; take it with you on a trek;
try it out; find out for yourself . . .:


Even when the world swiftly changes,
as the form of clouds,
all things completed fall
back into the Primordial.

Above stride and change,
further and freer,
your prelude endures,
god with a lyre.

Sufferings have not been seen,
Love has not been learned,
and what removes us in Death,

has not been revealed.
Only the song over the land
hallows and rejoices.

Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. Cliff Crego)

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Photograph by Cliff Crego © 2003