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Rilke, Rainer Maria - 18 Fourth Elegy



Type of Spiritual Experience



A description of the experience

Duino Elegies – Rainer Maria Rilke [The Fourth Elegy]

We, though, while we are intent on one thing, wholly,
feel the loss of some other.
Enmity is our neighbour.
Aren’t lovers always arriving at boundaries, each of the other,
who promised distance, hunting, and home?

And when, for the sketch of a moment,
a contrasting background is carefully prepared
so that we can see it: then this is clear to us.
We do not know the contours
of feeling, only what forms it from outside.

Who has not sat, scared, before his heart’s curtain?
It drew itself up: the scenery was of Departure.

Easy to comprehend.
The familiar garden swaying a little: then the dancer appeared.
Not him.
Enough! However lightly he moves he is in costume, and turns into a citizen,
and goes through the kitchen into his house.

I don’t want these half-completed masks, rather the Doll.
That is complete.
I will suffer its shell, its wire, its face of mere appearance.
I am waiting.
Even if the lights go out, even if someone says to me: ‘No more’ - , even if emptiness reaches me as a grey draught of air from the stage, even if none of my silent forefathers sits by me any more, not one woman, not even the boy with the brown, squinting, eyes.
I’ll still be here.
One can always watch.

The source of the experience

Rilke, Rainer Maria

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