The Donor

This is what he had ordered from the painters’ guild.
It’s not that the savior himself had appeared to him,
or even that one single bishop
ever stood beside him, as depicted here,
gently laying his hand upon him.

But this, perhaps, was all he wanted:
to kneel like this.
He had known the desire to kneel,
to hold his own outward thrusting
tightly in his heart,
the way one grasps the reins of horses.

So that when the Immense might happen,
unpromised and unpaid for,
we might hope that it wouldn’t notice us
and thus, undistracted, deeply centered,
it would come closer, would come right up to us.

— Rilke, New Poems

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