This volume marks the first translation of these prayer-poems into English. Originally written in 1899, Rilke wrote them upon returning to Germany from his first trip to Russia. His experience of the East shaped him profoundly. He found himself entranced by Orthodox churches and monasteries, above all by the icons that seemed to him like flames glowing in dark spaces. He intended these poems as icons of sorts, gestures that could illumine a way for seekers in the darkness. As Rilke here writes, "I love the dark hours of my being, / for they deepen my senses."
Mark S. Burrows is a scholar of medieval Christianity. He has taught in numerous graduate schools and universities in the United States and Germany, and is a leading voice in the field of spirituality and the arts. He is Professor of the History of Christianity at Andover Newton Theological School near Boston, and poetry editor for Spiritus.