Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Scene this Morning- and some thoughts form Rainer Maria Rilke

When i got up this morning- this was the scene. It is the South of France , not far from the coast for heaven's sake- what is happening???

So, being confined indoors,  without a sewing machine which i desperately need, I have been reading one of my favourite poets, Rainer Maria Rilke- his voice seems right for being kept indoors and watching the snow melt. I am reading his Letters to a Young Poet- finally, after having read most other things written by him. But I wanted to share some of his words, for whether you aspire to poetry or any other art making his words ring true. We all  seek approval and positive critique of our work, or even less than positive critique- but it is ultimately when we draw deep within ourselves that greatest expressive power is reached. I don't pretend to have reached it , but it has reaffirmed what i have been thinking for some time- to see, to really see, to come to grips with  something is to go down to the very depths of yourself, even the mundane and everyday and come back again- with something gained, a new insight, a new way of seeing.

From letter 1
Paris, February 17th  1903
“ In making contact with a work of art nothing serves so ill as words of criticism: the inavariable result of more or less happy misunderstandings. Things are not all so  comprehensible and utterable as people would mostly have us believe; most events are unutterable, consummating themselves in a sphere where word has never trod, and more unutterable then them all are works of art, whose life endures by the side of our own that passes away.”

“ You ask if your verses are good. You ask me. You have previously asked others. You send them to journals. You  compare them with other poems, and you are troubled when certain editors reject your efforts..... You are looking outwards, and of all things that is what you must now not do. Nobody can advise and help you, nobody. There is only one single means. Go inside yourself. Discover the motive that bids you write; examine whether it sends its roots down to the deepest places of your heart, confess to yourself whether you would have to die if writing were denied to you. This before all: ask yourself in the quietest hour of your night: must  i write? Dig down into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be in the affirmative, if you may meet this solemn question with a strong and simple “ I must”, then build your life according  to this necessity; your life must, right to its most unimportant and insignificant hour, become a token and a witness of this impulse. Then draw near to Nature. Then try, as if you were one of the first men, to say what you see and experience and love and lose. Do not write love poems; avoid at first those forms which are too familiar and usual; they are the most difficult, for great and  fully matured strength is needed to make an  individual contribution where good and in part brilliant tradition exist in plenty......”


sophie said...

I lived in Antibes, in the south of France, in the mid-80's when there was also a freak blizzard. The Nice Airport (and just about everything else) completely closed down until snow removal equipment could be brought down from the mountains. I have a couple strong memories of that snow storm, one of my little town taking on the look of a ski village as everyone bundled up in their ski clothes and apres-ski boots to walk to the bakery (and all the other necessary daily stuff of French life); and of learning that, in french, frozen pipes don't break (caisser), as I kept trying to explain they would do if the property manager of my apartment building continued to do nothing about them, instead, they burst (eclater), as they eventually did. After that event, he honestly tried to melt the frozen pipe with the smallest of candles . . . because that's what his (male, French) pals at the bar told him was necessary ;-)

I suspect now, as then, the snow won't last long. Hang in, avoid the roads, and stay warm and safe.

Kim said...

Great post. Im just reading In the company of Rilke by Stephanie Dowrick ISBN: 9781742371801
Classification: Literature & literary studies , Anthologies (non-poetry)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288
Publish Date: 1-Dec-2009
Country of Publication: Australia

and enjoying so much. thank you

Yvonne said...

I have this book (Letters) too. A wonderful passage from it; absolutely something to aspire to.