Poetry Friday: Rainer Maria Rilke

h1 April 27th, 2007 by eisha

{Note: Today’s Poetry Friday round-up can be found here at a wrung sponge} . . .

ChrysalisSo, I seem to be going through a bit of a flux-phase. Over the past few months I’ve finished my MLS, my husband has gotten a job that necessitates a move to a whole other state, I’ve become an aunt… Maybe that’s why lately I’ve been really thinking about who I am vs. who I want to be, what I do vs. what I wish I were doing, etc. Not quite mid-life crisis, but… close.

Hence, this poem has a lot of meaning for me right now:

“I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone” by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Annemarie S. Kidder).

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
enough
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

Man, I just love Rilke. I wish I read German so I could really actually read Rilke. Maybe that’s one of the things I should try to do next…

Read the rest of the poem here.

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15 comments to “Poetry Friday: Rainer Maria Rilke”

  1. I rounded you up for Friday Poetry at awrung sponge.


  2. Thanks!


  3. Eisha,

    I love this one. It makes me feel less alone in my wanting of everything. :)


  4. Rilke is one of the reasons I wish my German was better (way, way better). It’s lovely to hear someone who does know German read it aloud. Like opera, you don’t have to understand the individual meanings of the words to absorb the beauty.


  5. Eisha – thanks very much for sharing that Rilke. It’s been a while since I read any of his poetry – OK, the translations! That’s put some ideas in my head, fiction-wise (see what you’ve done ! *grins*)


  6. So lovely. To just consecrate a single hour. Goal for the weekend…


  7. This is wonderful. My best friend’s mother speaks German. I should ask her about this.

    And wishing you luck as you rediscover yourself. It’s sure to be a wonderful journey.


  8. Hey, thanks everyone. Glad you enjoyed it too – and that I’m not the only one who has to read Rilke in translation.


  9. What a beautiful poem.


  10. Eisha, one of my favorite books is a collection of letters from Rilke to a young poet (_Letters to a Young Poet_). When life gets too much, his words help center me.

    “If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable. If you will love what seems to be insignificant and will in an unassuming manner, as a servant, seek to win the confidence of what seems poor, then everything will become easier, more harmonious, and somehow more conciliatory, not for your intellect–that will most likely remain behind, astonished–but for your innermost consciousness, your awakeness, and your inner knowing . . . Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them.” (34-35)


  11. Oh, I’m squealing! That try-to-love-the-questions-themselves part has always been very dear to my heart. Shannon, you’ve made me want to re-read that book. Thanks for sharing.


  12. Okay, now I’m inspired to share one of my many Rilke favorites (from The Duino Elegies):

    Yes — the springtimes needed you. Often a star
    was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you
    out of the distant past, or as you walked
    under an open window, a violin
    yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission.
    But could you accomplish it? Weren’t you always
    distracted by expectation, as if every event
    announced a beloved? (Where can you find a place
    to keep her, with all the huge strange thoughts inside you
    going and coming and often staying all night.)

    And . . . from Letters . . . :

    “We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors, has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them . . . How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

    So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud-shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand, it will not let you fall.”


  13. I bought a copy of Letters to a Young Poet after watching Sister Act: Back in the Habit


  14. Ooh, Jules and Shannon, thanks for sharing more Rilke. J, that poem is EXCELLENT! And I need to re-read Letters, too – clearly it’s been too long.

    Michele – seriously? I’ve never seen any of the Sister Act movies. Do they really reference Rilke?


  15. Eisha, seriously ! Would I lie to you? Whoopi Goldberg’s character gives a copy of the book to a young student at the school at which WG’s character’s been roped into teaching. The character in question wants to sing, rather than write, and her mother doesn’t approve. It’s done beautifully – I was quite moved by it. Check it out !


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