One of my favorite poets, David Whyte, introduced me to this poem in the year 2000, when he spoke to the International Coach Federation Annual Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. He later incorporated this poem, along with his marvelous interpretation, in his book, Crossing the Unknown Sea (pp. 113-138).
a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Bly
Crossing the Unknown Sea
This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.
And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.
Coaching Inquiries: How is your life moving right now? Are you lumbering or flowing gracefully? Where is your elemental water? What environment would help you to thrive?
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
LifeTrek Coaching International
121 Will Scarlet Lane
Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043