Rainer Maria Rilke’s “God’s True Cloak” denounces the ways in which images and forms of hierarchy separate us from direct connection to God, spirit, and the world around us. He addresses the mist directly and suggests that we project worldly images onto the natural world around us, and that our very imagination and the forms of expression that we use, that are meant to reveal the world, instead hide the world and God’s true nature. 

God’s True Cloak
Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

We must not portray you in king’s robes,
you drifting mist that brought forth the morning.

Once again from the old paintboxes
we take the same gold for scepter and crown
that has disguised you through the ages.

Piously we produce our images of you
till they stand around you like a thousand walls.
And when our hearts would simply open,
our fervent hands hide you.

From Book of Hours, I 4

Writing Prompts Inspired by God’s True Cloak

Try to write a poem directly to the mist or to a part of the natural world, showing it in its own terms.

Rainer Maria Rilke‘s God’s True Cloak is from his Book of Hours, a meditation on finding a path to and relationship with God. The name is taken from the medieval devotional books of that name, many of which were beautifully illustrated.

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To read more morning poems, or poems of transition of any kind, come on over to my blog post with 15 great morning poems.

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