Gift Guide


Composed in 1899 when Rilke was only twenty-three, the interconnected tales of
Stories of God

were inspired by a trip to Russia the young poet had made the year previously.
It is said that the vastness of the Russian landscape and the ...

See more details below
Stories of God: A New Translation

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99 price
(Save 28%)$14.00 List Price


Composed in 1899 when Rilke was only twenty-three, the interconnected tales of
Stories of God

were inspired by a trip to Russia the young poet had made the year previously.
It is said that the vastness of the Russian landscape and the profound spirituality he perceived in the simple people he met led him to an experience of finding God in all things, and to the conviction that God seeks to be known by us as passionately as we might seek to know God.

All the great themes of Rilke's later powerful and complex poetry can be found in the
Stories of God
yet their charming, folktale-like quality has made them among the most accessible of Rilke's works, beloved by all ages.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780834825383
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/14/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,295,638
  • File size: 217 KB

Meet the Author

Sherab Chödzin Kohn is coeditor of the best-selling anthology The Buddha and His Teachings. He has been teaching Buddhism and meditation for more than thirty years, and he has edited a number of the books of his teacher, the Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa. He has also published numerous translations, including an acclaimed version of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) is widely regarded as one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. His works include Duino Elegies, The Sonnets to Orpheus, and Letters to a Young Poet.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

2: The Stranger

stranger wrote me a letter. The stranger wrote me not about Europe, not about
Moses, not about either the major or minor prophets, not about the emperor of
Russia or about Czar Ivan the Terrible, his fearsome forefather. Not about the mayor or the neighborhood shoe repairman, not about the nearby city nor about any distant city; nor were the woods full of deer that I get lost in every morning mentioned in his letter. He also told me nothing about his mother or his sisters, who are certainly long since married. Perhaps his mother is dead too—how can it be otherwise when I don't find her mentioned anywhere in a letter four pages long? He places a far greater trust in me: he treats me like his brother, he tells me his troubles.

In the evening the stranger pays me a visit. I do not light a lamp. I help him off with his coat and ask him to join me for tea, because it is just the time that
I take my tea every day. In the case of such intimate visits, there is no need to place constraints on oneself. As we are about to sit down at the table, I
notice that my guest is restless; his face is full of fear and his hands are shaking.

I say, "here's a letter for you." At that point I am ready to pour the tea. "Do you take sugar? Lemon, maybe? I learned to drink tea with lemon in Russia. Would you like to try it?" Then I light a lamp and place it somewhat high in a distant corner, so that the twilight actually still remains in the room; but now it is a warmer twilight than before, a bit rosy.
And then the face of my guest begins to look a bit more confident, warmer, and much more familiar to me. I greet him once more with the words: "You know,
I've been expecting you for a long time." And before the stranger has time to be surprised, I explain to him. "I know a story that I can tell to no one but you. Don't ask me why. Just tell me if you're comfortable in your chair, if the tea is sweet enough, and if you want to hear the story."

My guest had to smile. Then he answered simply: "Yes."

"Yes to all three?"

"To all three."

We both leaned back in our chairs at the same time, so that our faces fell into shadow. I put down my tea glass, took pleasure in the golden glow of the tea,
slowly forgot this pleasure, and suddenly asked, "Do you still remember

The stranger thought about this. His eyes peered off into the darkness, so that with the small points of light in the pupils they looked like two leaf-sheltered allées in a park, above which shone bright, open summer and sun. These, too, then, beginning thus as dim rounds, extended in ever-narrowing darkness to a single glimmering point—the exit on the far side into perhaps much brighter daylight. As I was watching this, he said hesitantly, as though he were using his voice only reluctantly:

I still remember God."

I thanked him, "because it just so happens that my story is about Him. But first tell me one more thing. Do you ever talk to children?"

"It does happen, in passing at least."

"Perhaps you are already aware of the fact that, as a result of some ugly insubordination on the part of His hands, God doesn't know what the finished human being actually looks like?"

once heard that somewhere, I no longer know from whom," replied my guest.
And I saw vague recollections chasing each other across his brow.

"It doesn't matter," I interrupted him, "just listen."

For a long time, God put up with this uncertainty. For His patience is as great as
His strength. But once, when thick clouds had been hanging between Him and the earth for days at a time, with the result that He no longer knew whether He might have just dreamed everything—the world and people and time—He called for His right hand, which for so long had been banished and hidden away in small, trivial tasks. It hurried eagerly to Him, for it thought that God finally wanted to forgive it. When God saw it before Him in its beauty, youth,
and strength, He was in truth inclined to forgive it. But just in time, He remembered Himself and commanded without looking at it:

"Go down onto the earth. Take the form that you see humans have, and position yourself on top of a mountain, naked, so that I can get a good look at you. As soon as you arrive down there, go to a young woman and tell her, but very softly, 'I want to live.' First you will be surrounded by a small darkness and then by a greater darkness, which is known as childhood, and then you will become a man and climb up the mountain, as I have just commanded you. The whole thing will only last a moment. Fare thee well."

The right hand said goodbye to the left hand, calling it by many nice names, and it has even been said that it suddenly bowed down to it and said, "O, thou holy spirit." But just then Saint Paul came along and lopped off God's right hand, and an archangel caught it and carried it off under his ample robe.
God used His left hand to staunch the wound so that his blood would not stream down over the stars and fall in sad drops onto the earth.

short time later, God, who was attentively following all the activities going on below, noticed that human beings wearing iron clothes were making a much greater fuss around one particular mountain than around any of the other mountains. And he expected to see His hand climbing up on top of it. But all that appeared was a man in what looked like a red cloak lugging something black that swayed from side to side. At the same moment, God's left hand, which lay over His open wound, began to get restless, and all at once, before God could stop it, it quit its place and began flitting about like a mad thing among the stars, crying: "Oh, poor right hand, and I can't do a thing to help it!" At the same time it began tugging on God's left arm, to the lower end of which it was attached, trying to pull itself loose. But the whole of the earth was red with God's blood, and there was no way of seeing what was going on down there. God almost died that time. With His last strength, He called His right hand back. Pale and trembling, it returned and lay down in its place like a sick animal. But even the left hand, which already knew quite a bit, since it had seen the right hand of God back there on the earth as it was scaling the mountain in the red cloak, was unable to find out from it the rest of what had taken place on that mountain. It must have been something very terrible. For
God's right hand has still not recovered from it, and it has suffered from its memories not less than from the wrath of God, who after all had yet to forgive
His hands.

My voice took a little rest. The stranger had covered his face with his hands.
Things stayed like that for a long time. Then the stranger, in a voice that I
had long since recognized, said,

"And why did you tell
this story?"

"Who else would have understood me? You come to me without rank, without office,
without honors and distinctions, almost without a name. It was dark when you came in, but all the same I detected a resemblance in your features."

The stranger looked up at me questioningly.

I replied to his silent look, "I often think, maybe God's hand is again off on its mission."

The children ended up hearing this story, and evidently it was told to them in such a way that they could understand it. For they are very fond of this story.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Tale of God's Hands
Why the Dear Lord Wants There to Be Poor People
Treachery Came to Russia
Old Timofei Died Singing
Song of Justice
Scene from the Venice Ghetto
Man Who Listened to Stones
How the Thimble Came to Be the Dear Lord
Tale of Death with a Strange Postscript
Association That Arose Out of a Crying Need
Beggar and the Proud Maiden
Story Told to the Darkness

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)