Friday, July 2, 2010
Reading Rilke (again)
I've decided to spend the summer with Rilke. It's complicated. I have his new collected poems translated by the superb Edward Snow, The Poetry of Rilke, the biography, Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke by Ralph Freedman, and some of the letters. It's been ten years since I've spent much time with him. I am curious to see how my sense of what he can teach me has changed. One thing that hasn't changed: how much I love this poem. Of course I know that I'm not alone.
Slowly the evening puts on the clothes
held for it by a ridge of ancient trees;
you watch: and the land divides from you,
one going heavenward, one sinking down;
and leave you, not quite belonging to either,
not quite so dark as the house cloaked in silence,
not quite so surely pledging the eternal
as that which becomes the star each night and climbs --
and leave you (inexpressibly to untangle)
your life, immense and ripening and fearful,
so that now closed in, now reaching everywhere,
it grows alternately stone and star in you.
Rilke (trans. E. Snow)