For a while now, I’ve reserved Mondays for poetry. If nothing else, poetry slows us down, and I usually need that on Mondays.
Here is a poem for the first Monday of Advent.
No doubt you can find many English-language versions of Rilke’s poem “Magnificat.” I’m afraid I couldn’t say which is best, whatever “best” means when we are speaking of poetry in translation. Most accurate? Most beautiful? As much as possible of both?
I chose this translation because of the words which begin the final stanza: “That he found me!”
Despite the trouble that sent Mary to seek refuge in the home of her cousin, she praises God because he saw her. He noticed her. He found her.
He is God-who-sees-us.
He is God-who-knows-us.
We are all of us lost, we are all of us found. Some of us don’t yet know that we’ve been found. Some of us just have a hard time remembering.
Rilke’s version of Mary’s song reminds me that even in the midst of trouble, even when I feel most lost, I have been noticed. I have been found.
Already gravid, she ascended, nearly
bereft of any solace, faith, or hope.
The pregnant matron, proudly and austerely
knowing, met her on the slope,
aware of all that Mary need not share.
Since she was resting on her suddenly,
the heavy frau embraced with patient care,
and waited till the younger spoke: “You see,
I feel as if I were to live forever.
God fills the rich with vanities, dear friend,
almost not even looking at their clever
glitter; choosing maidens, though, He’s never
rash, but fills them with life without end.
That he found me! Consider, that on my
account His fiats moved the stars. Oh, raise
Him up, my soul. Exalt the Lord on high,
for all that you can praise.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, translated from the German by Len Krisak