Rainer Maria Rilke: For the Sake of a Single Poem
… Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a lone one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences.
For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else—); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet, restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along high overhead and went flying with all the stars, and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that.
You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves—only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.
—Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge in The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell (Vintage International, 1989), reblogged from apoetreflects.
Discovered a marvelous website that could distract me endlessly. http://www.themodernword.com/kafka/kafka_quotes.html
Kafka speaks to us all:
One is alone, a total stranger and only an object of curiosity. And so long as you say “one” instead of “I,” there’s nothing in it and one can easily tell the story; but as soon as you admit to yourself that it is you yourself, you feel as though transfixed and are horrified.
–“Wedding Preparations in the Country”, Franz Kafka
Alice Walker: Writing What’s Right (Quote from GERNICA)
- Image from Flickr via The Septenarian~> CIRCLE(F)
Walker: Great Literature is help for humans. It is medicine of the highest order. In a more aware culture, writers would be considered priests. And, in fact, I have approached writing in a distinctly priestess frame of mind. I know what The Color Purple can mean to people, women and men, who have no voice. Who believe they have few choices in life. It can open to them, to their view, the full abundance of this amazing journey we are all on. It can lift them into a new realization of their own power, beauty, love, courage. It is a book that unites the present with the past, therefore giving people a sense of history and of timelessness they might never achieve otherwise. And even were it not “great” literature, it has the best interests of all of us humans at heart. That we grow, change, challenge, encourage, love fiercely in the awareness that real love can never be incorrect.