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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The poet Rilke has some extraordinary insights into the relationship between life and death. Here is what he observes in a letter to Nanny von Escher, translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows in A Year with Rilke:

Two inner experiences were necessary for the creation of these books (The Sonnets to Orpheus and The Duino Elegies). One is the increasingly conscious decision to hold life open to death. The other is the spiritual imperative to present, in this wider context, the transformations of love that are not possible in a narrower circle where Death is simply excluded as The Other.

Again, in Uncollected Poems, Rilke turns his poetic sights on death:

Somewhere the flower of farewell is blooming.
Endlessly it yields its pollen, which we breathe.
Even in the breeze of this beginning hour we breathe farewell.