Poetry Monday : Autumn by Rainier Maria Rilke

Rainier Maria Rilke is a beloved German-language poet who was born in Prague in 1875 (at that time, Prague was in the Kingdom of Bohemia, within the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and traveled extensively throughout Europe during his life, eventually settling in Switzerland. During his lifetime, he wrote vast amounts of beautiful poetry in both German and French, as well as one novel. A collection of his letters was published in 1926 as Letters to a Young Poet and has become a beloved classic. He died from leukemia at the age of 51 in Montreux, Switzerland. You can read more about Rilke on his Wikipedia page. I first read this poem in The Book of Images, translated by Edward Snow. I have the bilingual edition (a beautiful gift from a beloved friend) because I am a scholar of the beautiful German language, but I will provide you only with the English text here.


The leaves are falling, falling as if from far off,
as if in the heavens distant gardens withered;
they fall with gestures that say “no.”

And in the nights the heavy earth falls
from all the stars into aloneness.

We are all falling. This hand is falling.
And look at the others: it is in them all.

And yet there is One who holds this falling
with infinite softness in his hands.