Today is the birthday of Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), and so I post his poem for late autumn, along with a sketch made from the window of the Georgetown University building where my daughter has her weekly Sunday school class, and where therefore I am fortunate enough to spend a quiet hour thinking, organizing, and gazing upon this view. The setting inevitably drives my thoughts back in time—to Captain John Smith sailing up toward Great Falls… to the Native American village that preceded Georgetown… to the geological forces that carved out this valley… I am SUPPOSED to be planning my week, which seems laughable in context.
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.
—Rainer Maria Rilke