WINTER: now go out into your heart as onto a vast plain


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




                                              Their flight

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 thought

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



                                                         you know






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



withered leaves.







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.