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The Cosmos Cares for and Catches Us

I love fall. The season always creates a powerful mix of feelings in me — aliveness in the crisp cool air, awe and wonder at nature’s beauty, melancholy as another season of flowering life ends, and so quickly!

I also love this Rilke poem about falling, loneliness, tenderness, and being held. Rilke was alienated from traditional, organized religion. But he clearly had a sense that the cosmos somehow cares for and catches us, even as it makes falling a natural part of life.

This translation of “Autumn” is by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows, from their book, A Year with Rilke. In another book they did together, Rilke’s Book of Hours, they say, “Of all the seasons, Rilke most loved autumn. He found it released his creative powers.”

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Leaves are falling, falling as if from afar,
as if, far off in the heavens, gardens were wilting.
And as they fall, their gestures say “it’s over.”

(Excerpted from Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke. Read the full poem here.)

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