Sunday, March 04, 2012

Strange, though, alas! are the streets of the City of Pain, where, in the seeming stillness of uproar outroared, stoutly, a thing cast out from the mould of vacuity, swaggers that gilded fuss, the bursting memorial.

How an Angel would tread beyond trace their market of comfort,
with the church alongside, bought ready for use: as clean
and disenchanted and shut as the Post on a Sunday!
Outside, though, there’s always the billowing edge of the fair.
Swings of Freedom! Divers and Jugglers of Zeal!
And the life-like shooting-ranges of bedizened Happiness: targets
tumbling in tinny contortions whenever some better shot
happens to hit one. Cheer-struck, on he goes reeling
after his luck. For booths that can please
the most curious tastes are drumming and bawling. Especially
worth seeing (for adults only): the breeding of money!
Anatomy made amusing! Money’s organs on view!
Nothing concealed! Instructive, and guaranteed
to increase fertility! . . . . . . .
. . . Oh, and then just outside,
behind the last hoarding, plastered with placards for “Deathless,”
that bitter beer that tastes quite sweet to its drinkers
so long as they chew with it plenty of fresh distractions,—
just at the back of the hoardings, just behind them, it’s real!
Children are playing, and lovers holding each other,—aside,
gravely, in pitiful grass, and dogs are following nature.
The youth is drawn further on; perhaps he’s in love with a youthful
Lament . . . He emerges behind her into the meadows, she says:
A long way. We live out there. . . .
Where? And the youth
follows. He’s touched by her manner. Her shoulder, her neck,—perhaps
she comes from a famous stock? But he leaves her, turns back,
looks round, nods . . . What’s the use? She’s just a Lament.

From Ranier Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies, The 10th Elegy.

René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke (German pronunciation: [ˈʁaɪnɐ maˈʁiːa ˈʁɪlkə]; 4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926), better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was a BohemianAustrian poet. 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 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.

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