“Autumn”- By Rainer Maria Rilke

English: The Old Raron Church where the German...

English: The Old Raron Church where the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke is buried Français : L’ancienne église de Rarogne où est enterré Rainer Maria Rilke, poète (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paula Modersohn-Becker. Rainer Maria Rilke, 1906

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling. 

I love this little Rilke poem about autumn- for the unique and fresh vision of the poet. The poet is not writing a usual nature poem about autumn but much beyond it.

The leaves are not of terrestrial space but  of trees  in the higher space, where orchards are dying, each leaf falling as if motioning “no”. Each leaf is dissolution,a reluctant life dying,its fall signifying a refusal to tear away from the fabric of life. Whatever is falling is no golden harvest of autumn leaves to make way for new green leaves.Autumn is no celebration but a death.

From the leaves of the space the poet moves on to the larger cosmic stage of the earth falling from the space of the stars in its astral loneliness. And when the earth falls we all fall including the poet and the his this hand that is pointing at the stars and the earth falling. The grand spectacle of fall is here seen in the way the poet’s hand falls from whatever it is supporting, the life of the body it is supporting.

The last lines are of unsurpassed beauty and so musical too.Please sing aloud  the song of Rilke’s magical tribute to the Creator whose hands are “holding all this up” from falling:

And yet there is Someone,whose hands

Infinitely calm,holding up all this falling

Someone is with a Big capital “S”

His hands are infinitely calm

He is holding up all this falling

Contrast  falling hands of the poet to His holding hands, calm hands

Look at the other one, its is in them all, in the fallen things.

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