Catch only what you’ve thrown yourself, all is
mere skill and little gain;
but when you’re suddenly the catcher of a ball
thrown by an eternal partner
with accurate and measured swing
towards you, to your centre, in an arch
from the great bridgebuilding of God;
why catching then becomes a power ---
not yours, a worlds.
Rainer Maria Rilke
This selection from a longer poem was quoted
from the frontpiece of Hans-Georg Gadamer,Truth and Method. The English translation was published by Sheed and Ward Ltd. in 1975, and by The Continuum Publishing Corporation, New York, 1975.
The translation was edited by Garrett Barden and John Cumming
from the second (1965) edition of Wahrheit und Methode. The
first German edition of Wahrheit und Methode was published
By J.C.B. Mohr, Tubingen, 1960.
The German original and Edward Snow’s translation may be found in Uncollected Poems: Ranier Maria Rilke by Edward Snow published by
North Point Press, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York,
1996. Please see page 139.