March 11, 2011


The Brothel, by Vincent van Gogh

Loneliness is like the rain.
It rises from the sea toward evening
and from distant plains moves into sky
where it ever belongs.
And from the sky it falls upon us in the city.

It rains here below in the twilight hours
when alleyways wind toward morning
and when lovers, finding nothing,
leave the failure of each other's arms,
and when two who loathe each other
must share the same bed:

Then loneliness flows with the rivers...

Book of Images


  1. What a powerful image here, Lorenzo: The way that loneliness builds up to form rivers that lead into the great expanses of the ocean out of our human miseries and distances in relationships. Thank you.

  2. There is both truth and sadness in these observations, redeemed perhaps by the recognition that loneliness is always flowing. If we are lucky, it flows through us and over us for only brief periods, reminding us of what a blessing it is to find friendship, companionship, and love along the way.

  3. Loneliness 'rains' upon us all at some point or other. I think we all carry a secret load of loneliness. It is, however, an important motivating force for deep inner exploration, expression, creativity, outreach for the transcendent ... art ... and, of course, poetry.

    Rather than rushing off into frenetic efforts to drive away loneliness - perhaps, using Rilke's expression, we can 'learn to love' the loneliness and use it for inner spiritual exploration and growth.

  4. The pairing of Rilke's words with van Gogh's "The Brothel" is inspired. In such a place where love is trafficked, and never to be known in its fullest realization, most certainly does loneliness flow.

  5. Oh yes! Loneliness envelops us like fog.

  6. Early Rilke I think suffered loneliness as the dark side of solitude, the side where all of his afflictions with intimacy flowed in and rained down from every encounter. But as he grew to love his solitude - the meditational, devoted work of the anchorite -- his fear of loneliness subsided. Loneliness was misspent solitude, the lover who throws away solitude (and selfhood) in the vain hope of finding what one lacked in an other, which to him was a wholly wrong way to go about love. My favorite line from "Letters to a Young Poet" says that one's solitude is something to develop, for it allows one to bring something to the table of Love, and that there's nothing more precious in love than when "two solitudes protect and border and greet each other." - Brendan

  7. i like the coupling of the painting and the passage because i have felt the loneliness of being in a crowd (though not that kind of crowd)

    here is a part of loneliness that can be embraced though in the solitude, as long as it doesn't overwhelm you.

  8. The water (loneliness) rises, engulfs and threatens to drown him. We have all been there and many take their lives because of it. Without faith, how does one get through times like these?


"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Go ahead, bloom recklessly!