Friday, March 09, 2007

More from Rilke

"Praise the world to the angel, not what can't be talked about.
You can't impress him with your grand emotions. In the cosmos
where he so intently feels, you're just a novice. So show
him some simple thing shaped for generation after generation
until it lives in our hands and in our eyes, and it's ours."
-- Rainer Maria Rilke, from "The Ninth Elegy"

Sound advice for a poet, I think. But what a challenge it is to find "some simple thing" that can last more than a few minutes, much less generations. How did William Carlos Williams know so much depended on a red wheelbarrow? Writing something worthwhile requires so much instinct, discipline and patience, and the chances of success are so unlikely. Then again, why bother at all if that's not the goal, making something that will endure?

2 comments:

KrisUnderwood said...

I was very much into Rilke's Letters To A Young Poet years ago.

"The future stands still, but we move in infinite space"
-Letter 8

"Read as little as possible of literary criticism-such things are either partisan opinions, which have become petrified and meaningless, hardened and empty of life, r else they are just clever word games, in which one view wins today, and tommorrow the opposite view"

-Letter 4

KrisUnderwood said...

That should be 'Or else' in the Letter 4 quotation. oops.