January 25, 2010

The Fifth Letter

***The first three letters were posted in "10 days of Rilke 'til Christmas" in December 2009. Unfortunately the rest of the ten letters weren't posted by then, so here's the rest of this very profound writing for your enlightenment.

Letters to a young poet
Rainer Maria Rilke

“…Rome, if one does not know the city, can be depressingly sad for the first few days…because it exudes a death-like, dreary atmosphere, typical of museums. The over-abundant relics of the past have been resurrected and their revival maintained with tremendous effort. From them a very small segment presently makes its living. All of these distorted and stale things are basically nothing more than coincidental remnants of another era and another kind of life, which is not ours and should not be considered as our own. They have been indiscriminately overrated by many…

One says to himself: No, there is not more beauty here than else where. All these things have been restored and improved by the work of craftsmen. They have been and are admired and revered by generations past and present, and that will continue into the future. All these things mean nothing, are nothing, and have no heart, no worth. Yet there is much beauty here.

There is much beauty here because there is much beauty everywhere. Unending streams of lively water flow over the old aqueducts in the large city. They dance in the city squares over white stone bowls and spread themselves out in wide roomy basins. They rustle by day and raise their voice to the night. Night here is grand, expansive, soft from the winds, and full of stars. And gardens are here, unforgettable avenues lined with trees. And staircases are here, steps conceived by Michelangelo, steps that were modeled after downward gliding waters, broad in their descent, one step giving birth to another, as wave form wave. Through such impressions one composes of the multiplicities that speak and chatter. (How talkative they are!) One gradually learns to recognize the very few things in which eternity dwells, which one con love, and solitude, of which one can softly partake…”

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