Tuesday, October 4, 2011

To Clara Rilke

by Rainer Maria Rilke
from Poetry in Theory: An Anthology 1900-2000 by Jon Cook, p. 37-8

...Go on collecting impressions; don't think of letters which have to be informative and comprehensible; take in this and that with quick snatching-gestures: passing thoughts, ideas, fancies that suddenly flare up in you and last only a second under the influence of some occurrence; all those unimportant things that often become significant through a fleeting intensity of vision or because they take place on a spot where they are absolute in their irrelevance, unceasingly valid and profoundly meaningful for any personal insight which, rising up in us at the same moment, coincides pregnantly with that image. Looking is such a marvellous thing, of which we know but little; through it, we are turned absolutely towards the Outside, but when we are most of all so, things happen in us that have waited longingly to be observed, and while they reach completion in us, intact and curiously anonymous, without our aid, -- their significance grows up in the object outside: a powerful, persuasive name, the only name these inner events could possibly have, a name in which we joyfully and reverently recognise the happenings within us, a name we ourselves do not touch, only apprehending it very gently, from a distance, under the similitude of a thing that, a moment ago, was strange to us, and the next moment will be estranged anew.

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