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Rilke

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  • Deborah
    I ve been meaning to share a bit of this description of Rilke from the Zweig book: The World of Yesterday. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1969
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 27, 2004
      I've been meaning to share a bit of this description of Rilke from
      the Zweig book: The World of Yesterday. Lincoln, Neb.: University of
      Nebraska Press, 1969 printing.

      From page 142
      quote:

      Of all of these men, perhaps none lived more gently, more secretly,
      more invisibily than Rilke. But it was not willful, nor forced or
      assumed priestly loneliness such as Stefan George celebrated in
      Germany; silence seemed to grow around him, wherever he went,
      wherever he was. Since he avoided every noise, even his own fame-
      that "sum of misunderstanding, that collects itself about a name," as
      he once expressed it-the approaching wave of idle curiosity moistened
      only his name and never his person. It was difficult to reach Rilke.
      He had no house, no address where one could find him, no home, no
      steady lodging, no office. He was always on his way through the
      world, and no one, not even he himself, knew in advance which
      direction he would take. To his immeasurably sensitive soul, every
      positive decision, all planning and every announcement were
      burdensome. It was always by chance that one met him. You stood in an
      Italian gallery and felt, without being aware of whence it came, a
      gentle, friendly smile. And only then you recognized his blue eyes
      which, when they looked at you, lit up his otherwise unimpressive
      countenance with an inner light. But this unimpressiveness was
      precisely the deepest secret of his being. Thousands may have passed
      by this young man, with his slightly melancholy drooping blond
      mustache and his somewhat Slavic features, undistinguished by any
      single trait, without dreaming athat this was a poet and one of the
      greatest of our generation; his individuality, his unusual demeanor
      were only apparent in a closer association. He had an indescribably
      gentle way of approaching and talking. When he entered a room where
      people were gathered together, it was so noiselessly that hardly
      anyone noticed him. He sat there quietly listening, lifted his head
      unconsciously when anything seemed to occupy his thoughts, or when he
      himself began to speak, always without affectation or raised voice.
      He spoke naturally and simply, like a mother telling a fairy tale to
      her child, and just as lovingly; it was wonderful how, listening to
      him, even the most insignificant subject became picturesque and
      important. But no sooner did he feel that he was the center of
      attention in a larger circle than he stopped speaking and once again
      sank down into his silent, attentive listening.

      ------------------------

      There is quite a bit more on Rilke. It is an amazingly delicate
      characterization of an extraordinary personality.

      Deborah
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