Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rilke's Annunciation

I know it's a day late, but we're always in the Season of the Annunciation by my way of thinking. This poem was recommended to me by a friend:

Not that an angel entered frightened her
(you see that). As little as another
would if in her room a ray of sunlight, 
or the full moon intruding past midnight, 
creating itself with light made her start; 
rather she attended to the hard art
in which an angel, incensed in matter, 
went bracing itself for dense encounter. 
She could scarcely know how for an angel
(summer lightning slowed into a gazelle) 
time was perverse--she was that innocent--
Legend has it the wild doe's resplendent
forested horn was shown to her alone, 
as once startled from hiding in the wood, 
it was aroused as if sight had been thrown, 
revealing the unicorn where she stood--
see-er and seen, each alone and unpaired, 
the animal of light, purely revealed. 
Not that he entered, but that he stared
and broke out into poetry annealed
in the light, this angel, of a girl's face
so to him inclined, his and hers in sight, 
that within and without could so interlace
as everything spatial became insight, 
and what millions acting, forcing, tricking, 
contracted into her. She and he, 
vision and seer, eye and eye's feasting, 
were nowhere other than this place. See, 
this fright was time where time did not belong, 
and then the angel turned time into song. - Rilke

The Annunciation being one of my favorite feasts of the liturgical year I thought I would also post a bit of St. Gregory the Wonderworker's Second Homily on the Annunciation:

It is our duty to present to God, like sacrifices, all the festivals and hymnal celebrations; and first of all, the annunciation to the holy mother of God, to wit, the salutation made to her by the angel, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured!" For first of all wisdom2 and saving doctrine in the New Testament was this salutation, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured!" conveyed to us from the Father of lights. And this address, "highly favoured,"3 embraced the whole nature of men. "Hail, thou that art highly favoured"4in the holy conception and in the glorious pregnancy, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."5 And again the Lord, who came for the purpose of accomplishing a saving passion, said, "I will see you, and ye shall rejoice; and your joy no man taketh from you."6 And after His resurrection again, by the hand of the holy women, He gave us first of all the salutation "Hail! "7 And again, the apostle made the announcement in similar terms, saying, "Rejoice evermore: pray without ceasing: in everything give thanks."8 See, then, dearly beloved, how the Lord has conferred upon us everywhere, and indivisibly, the joy that is beyond conception, and perennial. For since the holy Virgin, in the life of the flesh, was in possession of the incorruptible citizenship, and walked as such in all manner of virtues, and lived a life more excellent than man's common standard; therefore the Word that cometh from God the Father thought it meet to assume the flesh, and endue the perfect man from her, in order that in the same flesh in which sin entered into the world, and death by sin, sin might be condemned in the flesh, and that the tempter of sin might be overcome in the burying9 of the holy body, and that therewith also the beginning of the resurrection might be exhibited, and life eternal instituted in the world, and fellowship established for men with God the Father. And what shall we state, or what shall we pass by here? or who shall explain what is incomprehensible in the mystery?

Peace Friends!


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