Opening onto a Vast Plain from The Book of Hours (1905)
Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875-1926, Bohemian (Austro-Hungary)
Translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
Rilke took this poem by inner dictation like others in his Book of Hours after his return from a visit to Russia.
You are not surprised at the force of the storm—
you have seen it growing.
The trees flee.
Purple Wind, 1995,oil on linen.
Alex Katz, American born 1927. On display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2016
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward.
All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.
Disused greenhouses, Winterthur, Delaware
The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees’ blood rose.
Flower Abstraction 1924, oil on canvas.
Georgia O’Keeffe, American. Whitney Museum of Art, NY
Now you feel
it wants to sink back
Night Bloom IV, 1997, oil on X-ray on aluminum.
Michael Gallagher, American ndb. Loaned by the artist and his gallery to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2015
into the source of everything.
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit:
Quince in late summer, Winterthur, Delaware
now it becomes a riddle again
and you again a stranger.
Summer was like your house:
Summer, 1972, oil on canvas.
John Moore, American born 1951. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
Field 1, 2017, oil on linen.
Alex Katz, American born 1927. Loaned by the artist to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY in 2022
as onto a vast plain.
the immense loneliness begins.
Untitled (Bébé Marie)early 1940s;
papered and painted wood box, with painted corrugated cardboard bottom, containing doll
in cloth dress and straw hat with cloth flowers, dried flowers, and twigs, flecked with paint.
Joseph Cornell, 1903-1972, American. MOMA, NY
The days go numb the wind
sucks the world from your senses like
Winterthur, DE in early winter
Thin Ice, 1969, tempera on hardboard panel.
Andrew Wyeth, 1917-2009, American. Private collection on loan to the Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, PA in 2017.
Through the empty branches the sky remains.
Pennsylvania Landscape, 1941, tempera on panel.
Andrew Wyeth, 1917-2009, American. Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, PA
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Little Marsh, 1986; 16-colour woodcut on Japanese tissue.
Neil G. Welliver, 1929-2005, American. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you
To Weave Through Time, 1979, acrylic on canvas.
John E. Dowell, Jr., American born 1941. Philadelphia Art Museum
when he reaches for you.