Rilke Poems in French, here it is Poem #53


Je ne peux pas m’engager ‘a accepter ses idées frivoles. Jamais, jamais, je ne l’obéissance pas un meneur, cela ne mène a rien.
Rereading Rilke’s poems in French. It was a masterful exercise in testing his knowledge of the poem and if he could communicate th senses of things felt in French as well as in his native German. The same stands for us, the readers. We must allow that Rilke was just wanting right simply of things felt. But the desire to analyze is always there so it does take an effort not to fall for the pretentious inclination to work a hermeneutic on them, but he tell us not to waste our time, just let the poem be.
This is about the poem itself. Forget any worldly relations because that will muddy the clarity Rilke was looking to place into his writings, not about Alma Mahler or the pre Raphaelites, this is the poem, the 59 poems, then the prose poems in French. No outside world. No gossip of who and what as this is Rilke seeking refuge in his last writings, near last writings. The Duino and Orpheus works drained him, and the publicity wore him out. Works in French is refuge.
I think he went beyond, beyond into an even more mystical and touched by the Heavenly Host as he sought God throughout the ways of language, in how we think and compose, how we think in a second or third language.
The beauty and spirituality is at times wavering between worlds of 2, 3 and 4th dimension.
Exhausted after the peak of excellence which pretty much drained him in Sonnets to Orpheus (my favorite of his collections) and the Duino Elegies (really neck and neck with Sonnets to Orpheus, but man, to write with such elevation and cloud touching as he did with his German sonnets he needed to do something in small ways of experience and things felt, so he used the French language to write of small things of the senses and almost by accident, of the mystical. 53, for me is one of those which begins as a lovely experience among rose bushes, which I relate to in many ways as I have always planted several different roses and Lillies around and in the path to the stairway entrance to my home. At one time I had 14 different kinds of rose and it was an ongoing marvel wonder and precious thanks to the Lord for such small beauties and inspirations.
Roses and lilies engage me physically and spiritually. So, I guess it is natural in terms of how I relate to a poem that I chose 53 to challenge our balance of being pretentious and being in awe. I am both. I seek to be held in awe of Gods gift of this earth which we so readily seek to destroy, and then for some we offer up our roses to the angels to decide. Yes, the wisdom of experience in things felt as sensory and No mind do elevate the soul.
If one is confused by the questions then no answer will ever offer consolation and the other will continue to live in a fantasy of made up imagery and conflicted slander and gossip rather than just looking upon the question and finding this is where stands the soul of the “I” or of the “other”.
It is so hard to be held transfixed by the most elemental of things. Now, the use of the “I” in my description of this pleasure in the text and in the relative meaning is not limited to me, but to all pronouns: I, me, you, yours, ours, theirs, they, them, us, he, she, You, They, Us, Me, Mine, I. All may be used and the meaning of the question and beauty of the answer reveals that it is in the question we find the true self. “but when will we find ways to be equal to the rose?”
The Greek poet Sappho asked a similar question in one of the fragments found of her poetry and it began:
“after so much giving I am exhausted.
where, my love, where are the roses for me?”
We, the reader, find so often that the poet, the writing, the poem itself asks where is there something in return for all I have given, and the poet must accept that what is of the poetic heart is not as it is for regular people except in time of reflection brought on by tragic or heroic events. For the Artist this question simply is a part of the lamented life where we wish the isolated life of the Arts were at times giving us a more social life just to be able to talk with others, to love others and to be free to enjoy conversations without boundaries. Yeah, the critical examination almost removes the delicacy of the poems intention in the first place:
“…
mais comment arriverait-on
a egaler une rose?”
“But when will we find ways to be equal to the rose?” and if we keep up this pretension of roses and tenderness will we then corrupt the angelic touch upon this moment? Right. There are those things written which just are as they exist in the poem, a moment felt and the fear of its being divided up and crushed under the pressure of cynics pen and paper.
Rilke poem Francais, #53
“On arrange et on compose
les mots de tant de focus,
mais comment arriverait-on
a egaler une rose?
Si on supporte l’étrange
prétention de ce jeu,
c’est que, parfois, un ange
le derange un peu.”
In English:
“We arrange and we compose
words in so many ways,
but when will we find ways
to be equal to the rose?
If we keep up the strange
pretension of this game,
it’s because at times an angel
deranges it a little.”

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