Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke

Again and again

Again and again, however we know the landscape of love

and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,

and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others fall

again and again the two of us walk out together

under the ancient trees, lie down again and again

among the flowers, face to face with the sky.

I was introduced to Rilke, in 2005 or 2006. I am not quite sure. I do remember the sunny, dusty afternoon when I first read his poetry, in stark contrast to the dark and cold world Rilke inhabited. Writing in German, the poem "Again and Again" (unknown translation) is one of the very few English poems that touch the soul like Urdu, Hindi and Persian (translations) do. I can only imagine what evocations the original may present. Apart from his poetry, the collection of letters that he wrote to Mr Kappus, an unknown poet and admirer of Rilke, show incredible sensitivity and kindness. A poignant line at the end of eighth letter reads, "Do not believe that he who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life has much difficulty and sadness...Were it otherwise he would never have been able to find those words." When Mr Kappus asked Rilke for reviewing his work, Rilke wrote, "With nothing can one approach a work of art so little as with critical words: they always come down to more or less happy misunderstandings. Things are not all so comprehensible and expressible as one would mostly have us believe; most events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has ever entered, and more inexpressible than all else are works of art, mysterious existences, the life of which, while ours passes away, endures."

I wonder how he would have reconciled this world view with his own life long pursuit of manifesting the inner world with words.

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