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"Whoever you may be: step into the evening. Step out of the room where everything is known. Whoever you are, your house is the last before the far-off. With your eyes, which are almost too tired to free themselves from the familiar, you slowly take one black tree and set it against the sky: slender, alone. And you have made a world. It is big and like a word, still ripening in silence. And though your mind would fabricate its meaning, your eyes tenderly let go of what they see." -- The Book of Images

"Assume the unity of Life and Death and let it be progressively demonstrated to us. So long as we stand in opposition to Death we will disfigure it. Believe me, my dear Countess, Death is our friend, our closest friend, perhaps the only friend who can never be misled by our ploys and vacillations. And I do not mean that in the sentimental, romantic sense of distrusting or renouncing life. Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love…. Life always says Yes and No simultaneously. Death (I implore you to believe) is the true Yea-sayer. It stands before eternity and says only: Yes." -- Letter to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouy

"His growth is this: to be defeated by ever greater forces." -- The Book of Images

God will not let himself be lived like an easy morning.

Whoever enters that mineshaft

leaves wide-open earth behind,

crouches in tunnels to break Him loose. 

                          -- Uncollected Poems


Stefan Zweig Visits Rilke

"For his aesthetic sense of perfection and symmetry entered into the most intimate and the most personal details. Once I watched him in his rooms prior to his departure – he declined my help as superfluous – as he was packing his trunk. It was like mosaic work, each individual piece gently put into the carefully reserved space; I would have felt it to be an outrage to disturb this flowerlike arrangement by a helping hand. 

 

"And his sense of the elements of beauty accompanied him to the most insignificant detail. It was not only that he wrote his manuscripts on the best of paper with his calligraphic round hand so that every line was related to another as if measured with a ruler; the choicest paper was selected for even an occasional letter, and even, clean and round his calligraphic writing filled the space. Even in the most hurried notes, he did not permit himself to strike out a word and whenever a sentence or an expression did not seem correct, he wrote the letter a second time with his marvelous patience. Rilke never allowed anything to leave his hands that was not perfect. 

 

"This muted and yet integrated quality of his being impressed itself upon anyone who came close to him. It was as impossible to think of Rilke being noisy as it was to imagine a man in his presence who did not lose his loudness and arrogance through the vibrations that emanated from Rilke’s quietness. For his conduct vibrated like a secret, continuous, purposive, moralizing force. After every fairly long talk with him one was incapable of any vulgarity for hours or even days." -- The World of Yesterday