Dear neighbour God, if often I disturb you
in the long nights with my knocking, I do so because
I seldom hear you breathing;
and I know that you are all alone in your great room,
and should you need something, there's no one there
to hold a drink out to your groping hand.
I'm always listening. Give me just a sign.
I am quite near.
There's only a thin wall between us,
by merest chance, and it would take
no more than a sound of your voice or of mine
to break it down.
Its fall would make no noise at all.
That wall is built of images of you.
Those pictures of you mask you like names,
and when for once the light in me flares up
by which I know you in my deepest self,
the light is squandered on mere picture-frames.
And then my senses, which grow quickly lame,
being severed from you, are without a home.
Rainer Maria Rilke
translated from the German by J.M. Cohen