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Rilke, Rainer Maria - 20 Fourth Elegy



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A description of the experience

Duino Elegies – Rainer Maria Rilke [The Fourth Elegy]

See the dying must realise that what we do here is nothing,  how full of pretext it all is, nothing in itself.

O hours of childhood, when, behind the images, there was more than the past, and in front of us was not the future.

We were growing, it’s true, and sometimes urged that we soon grew up, half for the sake of those others who had nothing but their grown-up-ness.

And were, yet, on our own, happy with Timelessness, and stood there, in the space between world and plaything, at a point that from first beginnings had been marked out for pure event.


Who shows a child, just as they are?

Who sets it in its constellation, and gives the measure of distance into its hand? Who makes a child’s death out of grey bread, that hardens, - or leaves it inside its round mouth like the core of a shining apple?

Killers are easy to grasp.

But this: death, the whole of death, before life, to hold it so softly, and not live in anger, cannot be expressed.


The source of the experience

Rilke, Rainer Maria

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