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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

From Elegies of the Far North


 View from Bárrás, Finnmark Fylke, Norway (II): photo by Villie Miettinnen, 4 September 2006

Who, if you cried out, would hear you in this village of the stone deaf
and eternally benumbed? Would they, to humour you
in your bewildered questionings, interrupt their rude
drinking games, their gropings in the violent dark of the cottages? and even if one
of the maids of the village, caught up in the solitude
which holds in its gentle palm the space around you at every moment of this world, her rustic

dirndl stained by the splashed droppings of the cattle she so lovingly tends, were to 
leave off early from the labours of the husky barn
and press you against her breast heart: you would be consumed
in that overwhelming existence. 




O that meeting with the girl in the rustic dirndl,
"'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished."


light coming into sky above black plane
of ridge, silver of planet above branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

more than person present in,
“to see means to know”

play of substance, thoughts
in which, may be more

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
wingspan of gull gilding toward horizon

TC said...


Such fits of sublimation have we known!

“to see means to know”

TC said...

In case anyone should detect, er, faint and distant echoes, wafting over the mountaintops much as soft wisps of cloud, of the Duino Elegies...

Well, to be fair to Rilke, the Rilke Phenomenon, like any other chamber-poet celebrity cult (we have them nowadays too of course), was not his fault. Not entirely. A lot was projected upon him. And who could say no to it?

"In his last years, and after his death in 1926, Rilke became the dubious beneficiary of German literary criticism, a kind of writing that (with rare and honorable exceptions) was less a criticism than a celebration, intuitive in method and overblown in rhetoric, a making and staking of grandiose claims, a kind of writing mired in sensibility and pseudo-philosophical mystery-making. Rilke, as Walter Muschg has caustically but justly said, became ' the idol of a generation without men.' The publication of his letters, 'most of them written, with violet ink, to ladies,' called forth a 'herd of male and female enthusiasts -- Schwärmer und Schwärmerinnen,' until at last 'the Rilke-fever grew into a world-wide fanatical sect.'...

"To Rilke's credit it must be said that he was the most reluctant of prophets, and when he issued warnings to his correspondents, he was not adopting the seductive pose that seeks to attract while appearing to repel; he was being faithful to his own convictions. He was besieged by letters from strangers. 'What letters!' he wrote to a friend in the summer of 1921. 'There are so many people who expect from me -- I don't know quite what -- help, advice; from me, who finds himself so perplexed before the pressing urgencies of life! And even though I know they deceive themselves, that they are mistaken -- still I feel ( and I don't think it's out of vanity!) tempted to communicate some of my experiences to them -- some fruits of my long solitude.'"

-- Peter Gay, Weimar Culture

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Focus: berries

They didn't need
to talk about me
it was in their looks
as I trudged with the rugs
washed with goat soap
in the icy lake
we brought them back
they said my legs were pretty
I knew I should hide them
my most useful items
in my toolkit
my basket woven
of the best grasses
twigs I could search for
it was not enough to please them
it would not be what I remembered
it was the rounded loaves
the fish baked inside
litle roosters it was called

TC said...

Jah, the village life, it is good. Maybe. Some of the time anyway. Laundry chores ease up in winter. Lake frozen. Wear same clothes all winter. Phew!

Susan Kay Anderson said...

"...the space around you at every moment of this world..."

This is somewhat of a comfort
at a high price
the price of freedom
just try to break
the routine
just you try it

after the war

That's what draws me to them
their wild scatchings
and then they sing out
beat hips punk da
da they dare

larry white said...

"this village of the stone deaf
and eternally benumbed"

I know this and do not damn it.
We are consumed together.

Scott Keeney said...

Susan: A less oblique response: your poems are wonderful. Stephen's, too, slivering silver of sunlight, but I was aware of Stephen's work, yours has arrived out of some pleasant blind spot. Rare to find poems in comment streams that aren't annoyances, and yours are far from that.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Whatever happens in the Far North stays in the Far North.
Thanks so much for the compliment, Scott Keeney. It means a lot to me, plus, to meet you in this beautiful place means that these blog comments are now sacred space (although they are quite cyber) too.