Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rilke Poem, God speaks to each of us as he makes us

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of you longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

from Rilke’s, ‘Book of Hours’ translated by A Barrows and J Macy.
and photo of Thich Quang Duc a buddhist monk.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rilke Poem, 'Du, gestern Knabe, dem die Wirrnis kam'


(To the younger brother)

You, yesterday’s boy,
to whom confusion came:
Listen, lest you forget who you are.

It was not pleasure you fell into. It was joy.
You were called to be the bridegroom,
though the bride coming toward you is your shame.

What chose you is the great desire.
Now all flesh bares itself to you.

On pious images pale cheeks
blush with a strange fire.
Your senses uncoil like snakes
Awakened by the beat of the tambourine.

Then suddenly you’re left all alone
with your body that can’t love you
and your will that can’t save you.

But now, like a whispering in dark streets,
rumors  of God run through your dark blood.

From Rilke’s, ‘Book of Hours’ translated by A Barrows and J Macy.

These poems are love poems to God but Italian Renaissance religious art had showed Rilke that, ‘the holy can be rooted in the body and in human relationship’. The poems were written in 1899 after a magical trip to Russia with his lover Lou Andreas-Salome, a beautiful 36 year old Russian woman.

Painting is by Klimpt, ‘Die Tanzerine’ 1916


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cain and Abel







Cain and Abel Genesis 4

New International Version (NIV)

 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.”
2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.
4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering,
5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?
7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.
11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

I have always been more interested in working the soil than animal husbandry and felt, along with Cain, that G-d was unfair in not accepting his offering. Perhaps this biblical myth also refers to the rise of agriculture, the ability to store crops giving rise to early civilisations and making possible todays national and ideological wars (The Curse of Cain) 

I notice from the next part of Genesis that although Adam and Eve were in a sense the first man and woman in a generation or two there are whole tribes and cities.

I was led to this biblical story by one of Rilke's many brilliant poems.
(Abel speaks)

I am not. The brother did something to me
that  my eyes didn’t see.
He veiled the light.
He hid my face with his face.
Now he is alone.
I think he must still exist,
for no one does to him what he did to me.
All have gone the same way:
all are met with his rage,
beside him all are lost.

I sense my older brother lies awake
As if accused.
Night offers itself to me,
not to him.
Rilke’s Book of Hours translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy.

Der blasse Abelknabe spricht:

Ich bin nicht. Der Bruder hat mir was getan,
was meine Augen nicht sahn.
Er hat mir das Licht verhängt.
Er hat mein Gesicht verdrängt
mit seinem Gesicht.
Er ist jetzt allein.
Ich denke, er muss noch sein.
Denn ihm tut niemand, wie er mir getan.
Es gingen alle meine Bahn,
kommen alle vor seinen Zorn,
gehen alle an ihm verloren.

Ich glaube, mein großer Bruder wacht
wie ein Gericht.
An mich hat die Nacht gedacht;
an ihn nicht.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 22.9.1899, Berlin-Schmargendorf

picture by James Tissot

Down by the Salley Gardens

Down by the Salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the Salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree.
But I being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by a river
 my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
 she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
 as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish
 and now am full of tears. 

by W.B.Yeats


Monday, August 12, 2013

A Day in the Cuillin Mountains on Skye and Airlift to Inverness. 9th Aug 2013

 The walk in from Sligachan to Glen Brittle, an easy attractive well worn path.

 First day of walk in to Sgurr Alisdair climb, an attractive waterfall on route.
 A well made path.
 Loch an Fhir-bhallaich with Isle of Rhum in background.
 The mist is rising. Rhum still visible.

 Looking up at the summit of Sgurr Alisdair 993m.
 The Great Stone Chute. Takes about an hour to get up as the rocks are unstable. Take care for broken ankles and falling rocks.
 Loch Coire Lagan at the bottom of the stone chute. Rhum still visible.
 At the top of Sgurr Alisdair I waited an hour for the mist to burn off. This was my first view looking south
 Matt, of Skye Adventures arriving from the south with two clients.

Looking back to Mat's group still on the summit of Sgurr Alisdair. 

This ridge in the middle distance was the next part of the ridge scramble. It looks and was dramatic but easy enough.

The route to the Innaccessible Pinnacle is partly hidden and that is where I fell about 5m while climbing down a vertical face. Why? I think because I'd had enough excitement for one day and rushed on the wrong way. I could see the easy path ahead to the In Pin and was in a rush to get there. I landed on my feet, blood spurting from my head and called, 'Help'. A group at the In Pin heard me and we could shout to each other. They called the mountain rescue. 5 minutes later I heard heavy breathing and Mat, the guide I'd met on Sgurr Alisdair arrived. He'd also heard my cry and must have almost run across. He'd also phoned mountain rescue and now administered first aid until the team led by Gerry Akroyd arrived. I was soon on a streacher so well wrapped I was stewing. A lady rescuer removed her top and fanned me, lovely. A new Sigorsky coastgard helicopter was also on the scene but had first to deal with an older man who was exhausted. Swinging through the air above the Cuillin was something I'll never forget. I was flown to Raigmore hospital in Inverness where I had excellent treatment for two broken fibula and a small fracture of my neck.. My plasters will be removed at the end of August.

The picture is of a previous Sea King helicopter rescue by the team. The route picture is from