If We Surrendered to Earth's Intelligence
How surely gravity's law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls is toward the heart of the world.
each stone, blossom, child—
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.
If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.
Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.
So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God's heart;
they have never left him.
This is what the things can teach us:
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Born in Prague, the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) traveled widely throughout Europe.
On a trip to Russia in 1899,
he was inspired by the Christianity of Leo Tolstoy and the Russian peasants he met.
This poem was written shortly after that trip.