April 20, 2011

Springtimes Have Needed You

Bulb Fields, by Vincent van Gogh

Springtimes have needed you.
And there are stars expecting you to notice them.
From out of the past, a wave rises to meet you
the way the strains of a violin
come through an open window
just as you walk by.

As if it were all by design.
But are you the one designing it?

From the First Duino Elegy


  1. It's one of Rilke's deep and constant themes, isn't it, that idea of the reciprocity of Nature (eg 'If the earth forgets you', Sonnet XXIX,Sonnets to Orpheus), of feeling at home (or otherwise) in Nature ('We are involved in flower, leaf and fruit', Sonnet XIV, Sonnets to Orpheus). Just before this passage in the First Elegy, Rilke writes, 'how little at home we are in the interpreted world.' - suggesting that too much analysis and intellectualisation can alienate us from Nature. But designing Nature? Nietsche tells us God is dead, so are we ourselves designing Nature in some way? Is the apparent meaning and significance of Nature all in our own minds? Well, I think we are interpreting it, we can't help it, it's only human to do so, as Rilke does throughout all his work - in symbolic language.

  2. the idea of co-creation has hovered in my head or somewhere near it for some time now. i see the surface features of the world as signs. they have a degree of commonality to all people and so i assume that they are intended for all people. availability to the pathways pointed to by those signs is where the rabbit warren of significance becomes more complex. there's an essential truth the signs point to. how to get oneself out of the way to be able to access that essential truth? steven

  3. Creators created the Creator ... even the starry universe, according to Rilke, is a "fraud," sketched by those who would see it entire. I heard once science philosopher once said that perhaps the universe created homo sapiens so it would have capacity to see itself, and wonder ...On the other hand, what we call creation is a human invention, a trope on an activity so blind and riven that any sense of its meaning is only what the human brain infers to it. We call it meaning; copulating animals call it heat. Human humanize the landscape so that its all a part of the human community -- the so called "anthorpocentric fallacy" -- The World as Me -- when the center is Nature, and we are just a part of it, no moire distinguished than the ants we step on. Humbling, but then human creation becomes a natural act, like wind against spring windows. Our poetry always seems to be reaching toward that greater circle ... Brendan

  4. creation and even co-creation seem too ego centric for me but then i realize this is only personal. and from this i realize that everything is personal, no real truth transcending any one of us perhaps, except the existance of the tree, of the stars, of springtime itself. i think we are all a spilling out. i think of my daughter starting a race with all of her other only partially made peers, ill dressed, half-assed, and how she spreads her vision to take it in as they do her. is this then co-creation? or is it only a mutual witnessing?

    i am only as real as nature makes me, as animal as the next wolf. anything else i design is makebelief, a burp of my biological brain.

    i love this passage from rilke. i love it more without the last question. i love it as though communion were everything. as though all of our worth hinges on the witnessing of one another. for to me, it seems so.

    and so i ask, don't i, do you see me? and you ask, don't you, do you see me? we want such worth. we yearn for the same attention spring yearns for just in our natural being. we are like the mountain before a person calls it mountain. we need a name. or, more rightly, we feel, we need a name. we desire a name. we spill out towards a name. my name is what you see of me. your name is what i see of you. lorenzo. i see you, especially after what you wrote yesterday in response to specific love, as a romantic/ a lover. ruth, i see you, i see you much the way i see myself, desiring/needing to be seen, except i see you gentler than me, more feminine, more refined. and i see brendan and steven and solitary walker who i know little of and yet i see. we demand to be seen in this forum of blogging, even if only seen and heard for a moment. we demand to be seen in our poetry. it is our pulse. it is our being.


  5. Oh yes everyone. Yes yes and more yes and yes.

    We are the only meaning. That's it. It's what we ascribe.

    Erin, so much yes. We need to be witnessed. I feel this as such a feminine trait, but I think those who are more masculine need it too. Maybe they don't state it so openly. Of course blogging people want to be witnessed.

    As I've been contemplating this witness, I fall into the comparison trap, and thus my poem "Must we choose?" As Brendan says, Nature does not mean anything to itself. There are no ranks except for the food chain. (For this, I love James Dickey's poem "The Heaven of Animals".)

    As we recently read in Rilke—

    God, to make one thing. . . .

    to make the thing, oh God, God, that thing,
    that, half-heaven, half-earth, gathers into its gravity
    only the sum of flight,
    weighing nothing but arrival.

    Our one things blend into a wonder of illumination. Now one rises up, noticed, then another. And what would the ones in relief be without the background black, or beige, or whatever white sky bridges us?

  6. thanx for this blog about Rilke, every thing is beautiful!

  7. Whew, heavy lifting going on here ... The thought of needing to be witnessed, to be seen: that's a lover's quandary, isn't it? Ann Carson says in "Eros the Bittersweet" that what the lover yearns for most is to see their own reflection in their Beloved's eye -- to be present is to be exactly there ... The torch of Eros makes it possible for that illumination, that love-light; Eros is beholding, witness, the rapture of welcome, the beloved's affirmation that we exist. And when we visit each other's habitation and make our comments, we are saying, I See You ... It shouldn't mean so much but it does, its what gives all those carved words meaning (though I do believe the actual conversation is between writer and god; it's just that it's much easier a conversation when we believe that god is eye-level, i.e., the god in me sez hello to the god in you ...) - Brendan

  8. Such questioning in the line "As if it were all by design."; a calling it all into doubt. And yet that final line that questions: it has to.

    The act of seeing, of noticing, is an act of homage.

    I think of Rumi's "That Lives in Us" in which he writes, "You will come to see that all evolves us." and "If you put your heart against the earth with me,... our Beloved will enter you... and we will be, we will be happy."

  9. I can only comment to what I see and receive in these lines. I can't pretend to know the mysteries laid out.
    Seems he could be talking to a lover, perhaps a God, perhaps a flower.and in these first six lines I find a simple poem of love
    but in the second to the last line he implies it MIGHT be by design
    in the last line he implies it IS by design
    the only question being-Who's?
    I sense an attitude in the last line that the question is rhetorical, that he has already accepted an answer and merely winks to the question in checkmate.
    we live in a strange world, universe even in that all exists in shared space thus, we must have laws both criminal and moral dictated by the majority or one we might choose as an ultra-wise. It seems in such a creation or existence if you prefer, all are in need of being seen, being helped, being highlighted and brushed.
    in such a place, not even springtime can be an island.

  10. Everything I see has whatever meaning I give to it.

    Whatever attributes in another, and in God are the ones I want them to have.

    I see not what is there, but what I want to be there.


"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!