This volume marks the first translation of these prayer-poems into English. Originally written in 1899, Rilke wrote them upon returning to Germany from his first trip to Russia. His experience of the East shaped him profoundly. He found himself entranced by Orthodox churches and monasteries, above all by the icons that seemed to him like flames glowing in dark spaces. He intended these poems as icons of sorts, gestures that could illumine a way for seekers in the darkness. As Rilke here writes, "I love the dark hours of my being, for they deepen my senses."