Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Mr. Rilke

 
Things aren't all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life. - Rainer Maria Rilke 

Rainer Maria Rilke (December 4, 1875 – December 29, 1926) was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and art critic. He is considered one of the most significant poets in the German language. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety: themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets.

He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. Among English-language readers, his best-known work is the Duino Elegies. His two most famous prose works are the Letters to a Young Poet and the semi-autobiographical The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. He also wrote more than 400 poems in French, dedicated to his homeland of choice, the canton of Valais in Switzerland.

Rilke was sensitive and introspective. His poetic style was rich and supple, varying from the simple to the elaborate and profound. It is generally characterized by striking visual imagery, musicality, and a preponderant use of nouns. The erotic and spiritual love between men and women is a constant theme. In tone Rilke's verse was often mystical and prophetic; he used symbolism as a means of expression and created poetry that bears a strong resemblance to medieval verse. This resemblance may reflect Rilke's religious outlook - his probing into the emotional and spiritual issues involved in the search for goodness and transcendence in the absence of a personal God and his absorption with death as a poetic theme. Rilke was anti-modern in many ways, an attitude particularly evident in his antipathy for large modern cities.