Rainer Maria Rilke

(4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926 / Prague / Czech Republic)

Quotations

  • ''He reproduced himself with so much humble objectivity, with the unquestioning, matter of fact interest of a dog who sees himself in a mirror and thinks: there's another dog.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. Letter, October 23, 1907. Letters on Cézanne (1952, trans. 1985). On Cézanne.
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  • ''The great renewal of the world will perhaps consist in this, that man and maid, freed of all false feelings and reluctances, will seek each other not as opposites, but as brother and sister, as neighbors, and will come together as human beings.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. Letter, July 16, 1903. Letters to a Young Poet (1934, rev. 1954).
  • ''Not since Moses has anyone seen a mountain so greatly.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. Quoted in Rilke, Letters on Cézanne, foreword (1952, trans. 1985). Remarking on Cézanne's picture of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire to Count Harry Kessler.
  • ''Just as the creative artist is not allowed to choose, neither is he permitted to turn his back on anything: a single refusal, and he is cast out of the state of grace and becomes sinful all the way through.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. Letter, October 23, 1907, to his wife. Rilke's Letters on Cézanne (1952, trans. 1985).
  • ''Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. Letter, June 24, 1907, to his wife. Rilke's Letters on Cézanne (1952, trans. 1985).
  • ''Just as language has no longer anything in common with the thing it names, so the movements of most of the people who live in cities have lost their connexion with the earth; they hang, as it were, in the air, hover in all directions, and find no place where they can settle.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. repr. In Rodin and Other Prose Pieces (1954). Worpswede (1903).

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Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

[Hata Bildir]