The Silence of Pictures

Guitar Lesson, Balthus, 1934

 

AN DIE MUSIK

“Musik: Atem der Statuen. Vielleicht:
Stille der Bilder. Du Sprache wo Sprachen
enden. Du Zeit
die senkrecht steht auf der Richtung
vergehender Herzen.

Gefühle zu wem? O du der Gefühle
Wandlung in was?— in hörbare Landschaft.
Du Fremde: Musik. Du uns entwachsener
Herzraum. Innigstes unser,
das, uns übersteigend, hinausdrängt,—
heiliger Abschied:
da uns das Innre umsteht
als geübteste Ferne, als andre
Seite der Luft:
rein,
riesig
nicht mehr bewohnbar.”

Rainer Maria Rilke
1918

 

________________________________

 

TO MUSIC

“Music. The breathing of statues. Perhaps:
The silence of pictures. You, language where all
languages end. You, time
standing straight up out of the direction
of hearts passing on.

Feeling, for whom? O the transformation
of feeling into what?— into audible landscape.
Music: you stranger. Passion which
has outgrown us. Our inner most being,
transcending, driven out of us,—
holiest of departures:
inner worlds now
the most practiced of distances, as
the other side of thin air:
pure,
immense
no longer habitable.”

The Beyonds of Mirrors

From the series Dichter in de Massa (based on Rilke’s only novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge), Gerolf van de Perre, 2010

 

MY LIFE

“My whole life is mine, but whoever says so

will deprive me, for it is infinite.

The ripple of water, the shade of the sky

are mine; it is still the same, my life.

No desire opens me: I am full,

I never close myself with refusal-

in the rhythm of my daily soul

I do not desire-I am moved;

by being moved I exert my empire,

making the dreams of night real:

into my body at the bottom of the water

I attract the beyonds of mirrors..”

Rainer Maria Rilke

In Girl’s Clothing

Little Rainer Maria Rilke

 

René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke(4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926), better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was born in Prague, capital of Bohemia (then part of Austria-Hungary, now the Czech Republic). His childhood and youth in Prague were not especially happy. His father, Josef Rilke (1838–1906), became a railway official after an unsuccessful military career. His mother, Sophie (“Phia”) Entz (1851–1931), came from a well-to-do Prague family, the Entz-Kinzelbergers, who lived in a house on the Herrengasse (Panská) 8, where René also spent many of his early years. The relationship between Phia and her only son was colored by her mourning for an earlier child, a daughter who had died only one week old. During Rilke’s early years Phia acted as if she sought to recover the lost girl through the boy by dressing him in girl’s clothing. His parents’ marriage failed in 1884. His parents pressured the poetically and artistically talented youth into entering a military academy, which he attended from 1886 until 1891, when he left owing to illness.

He skillfully foiled his father’s martial expectations, and lack of funds freed the aspiring poet from his family’s next plans for him: law school. In fact, though he attended several universities, soaking up lectures on diverse subjects throughout his life, he never graduated from any of them. About such a practical matter as a sheepskin, the finest German lyricist since Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote as an adolescent, “And even if I never reach my Arts degree / I’m still a scholar, as I wished to be.”