2013 Resolution

I have never been terribly successful with resolutions at New Year’s. But in general, a few of the better resolutions have made their way into my life in meaningful ways. A few years ago, I determined to read more poetry.

Did I read a poem every day? No.

Do I now read poetry regularly? Yes.

I’ll call that success.

This past year has been a good year for me. I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I have made positive changes for my health. I have worked at my relationships. So I’m not sure I want to mess with what is going well by adding more resolutions.

But I would like to offer this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, which sums up how I want to live in 2013.  It is published in Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy (Riverhead Books)

You see, I want a lot.Maybe I want it all:
the darkness of each endless fall,
the shimmering light of each ascent.

So many are alive who don’t seem to care.
Casual, easy, they move in the world
as though untouched.

But you take pleasure in the faces
of those who know they thirst.
You cherish those who grip you for survival.

You are not dead yet, it’s not too late
to open your depths by plunging into them
and drink in the life
that reveals itself quietly there.


And here it is in German, for the few of you I know who read Rilke auf Deutsch. (No idea how to make umlauts on my laptop, however, so fill in where appropriate.)

Du siehst, ich will viel.
Vielleicht will ich Alles:
das Dunkel jedes unendlichen Falles
und jedes Steigens lichtzitterndes Spiel.

Es leben so viele and wollen nichts,
und sind durch ihres leichten Gerichts
glatte Gefuhle gefurstet.

Aber du fruest dich jedes Gesichts,
das dient und durstet.

Du freust dich Aller, die dich gebrauchen
wie ein Gerat.

Noch bist du nicht kalt, und es ist nicht zu spat,
in deine werdenden Tiefen zu tauchen,
wo sich das Leben ruhig verrat.

How do you want to live in 2013? Are you a maker of resolutions? Any intentions for this new year?

3 thoughts on “2013 Resolution

  1. I’m not going to like this because I think the translation is dreadful — but the poem is great.

    I’m not a resolution maker — making resolutions makes me feel trapped and oppositional. I always resolve to notice more clearly the positive change that’s already going on and try to support it. I probably get less changed that way, though.


    • Yes, my German is good enough I can recognize it isn’t a close translation but dusty enough that I can’t figure out how to better translate it.

      Ultimately, I think our real change happens when life leaves us no choice.


      • re: change — yes, totally agree. It’s why deterrence is so often ineffective as a mechanism for changing people’s behavior. Most of us have to be up against it — it’s easier to behave the way we have been, or else we wouldn’t be doing it.

        Poetry is hard to translate. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s