Friday, March 11, 2011

taking up the pilgrim's staff


There will be no rest in the houses:
the stir
of departure -
someone being carried to his grave,
and another, taking up the pilgrim's staff,
to ask in unknown places for the path
where he knows you are waiting.
So many are drawn now to move toward you,
the roads are never empty.
There are so many 
we can't make out their faces
or know their names,
and when they finally reach you
they are tired.
I have seen them moving like a tide.
Since then, I think the winds themselves
are stirred by the blowing of their cloaks,
and subside again when they lie down,
so great is their going across the plains.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from The Book of Pilgrimage, II,27