Thursday, December 23, 2010

Notes from "Letters to a Young Contrarian", Letter II

Letter II

In letter II we have a few excerpts from Rainer Maria Rilke.

One beautiful quote is the advise Rilke offers to a young writer:

There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if your were forbidden to write. This most of all; ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this question with a strong, simple "I must," then build your life in accordance with this necessity...

This passage by Rilke is restated briefly by Hitchens saying that you must write not because your want to do it, but because you feel that you have to do it.

Hitchens also mentions Rilke's approach to Eros saying that:

His [Rilke's] seven so-called Phallic Poems are among the best non-love verses since the brave days of Marvell and the Metaphysicals; they openly announce that fucking is its own justification.

After reading this, I was prompted to find who were the Metaphysicals. It turns out that they were a group a 17th century English poets, characterized by the use of conceptual metaphors with complex logic.

I also found the Phallic Poems here. It doesn't take long to read them. It is amazing how something so straightforward can be said in such elaborate way. Take poem IV, for instance:

You don’t know towers, with your diffidence.
Yet now you’ll become aware
Of a tower in that wonderful rare
Space in you. Hide your countenance.
You’ve erected it unsuspectingly,
By turn and glance and indirection,
And I, blissful one, am allowed entry.
Ah, how in there I am so tight.
Coax me to come forth to the summit:
So as to fling into your soft night,
With the soaring of a womb-dazzling rocket,
More feeling than I am quite.

Finally, there is a reference of what Rilke wrote about solitude. So I went to google it as well and I found a book that looks really interesting and wich is also online. It's called "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rilke himself. Going briefly over the word "solitude" I found several references to solitude, love and why we must take on difficult things:

We know little, but that we must hold to what is difficult is a certainty that will not forsake us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. [my emphasis]

As it often happens in the virtual world, one link takes you to another and yet another website; I found this peculiar quote. Alas, I couldn't find which book was it from.

Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.

On second thought, it might work like that.

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