Sunday, July 13, 2008

More tightly knit

It is as if whatever I truly receive falls too deeply into me, falls, falls for years and in the end I lack the strength to lift it out of me and I walk about fearfully with my heavily laden depths and never reach them. Yes, I know that impatience warps all those processes and transformations that take their course in darkness as in heart-chambers, and I know that in patience lies everything: humility, strength, measure. But life moves on and is like a day, and whoever wished to be patient would need a thousand such days, though perhaps not even one is given him. Life moves on, and it strides past many in the distance, and around those waiting it makes a detour. And thus my wish to be someone working rather than waiting, someone standing at the center of his work's workshop far into every day's dawn. And yet I cannot be, because almost nothing in me has reached fruition, or else I am not aware of it and let my faraway harvests grow old and outlive their time. There is still nothing but confusion in me; what I experience is like pain and what I truly perceive hurts. I don't seize the image: it presses into my hand with its pointed tips and sharp edges, presses deep ino my hand and almost against my will: and whatever else I would grasp slides off me, is like water and flows elsewhere once it has mirrored me absent-mindedly. What should he do, Lou, who grasps so little about life, who must let it happen to him and comes to realize that his own willing is always slighter than another great will into whose current he oftentimes chances like a thing drifting downstream? What should he do, Lou, for whom the books in which he wants to read only draw open like heavy doors which the next wind will slam shut again? What should he do for whom people are just as difficult as books, just as superfluous and strange, because he cannot derive from them what he needs, because he cannot select from them and thus takes from them what is crucial and incidental and burdens himself with both? What should such a person do, Lou? Should he remain utterly alone and accustom himself to a life lived among things, which are more like him and place no burden on him?

Yes, Lou, I too believe that the experiences of the past few years have been good for me, that whatever came to me pressed me more firmly into myself and no longer scattered me as so often before; I am now more tightly knit, and there are fewer pores in me, fewer interstices that fill up and swell when things not my own penetrate.

— Rainer Maria Rilke to Lou Andreas-Salomé, July 25, 1903, from Rilke and Andreas-Salomé: A Love Story in Letters.

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