December 23, 2011

Wait and Gather

Cemetery pebbles and stones in Kraków
photo by Lorenzo of Alchemist's Pillow
(photo cropped by Ruth)

Poems don't come to much when they are written too soon. One should wait and gather the feeling and flavors of a whole life, and a long life if possible, and then, just at the end, one might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people suppose, emotions—those come easily and quickly enough. They are experiences.

For the sake of one line of poetry, one must see many cities, people, and  things. One must be acquainted with animals and feel how the birds fly, and know the gestures of small flowers opening at the first light. One must be able to think back on paths taken through unknown places, on unanticipated meetings, and on farewells one had long seen coming, on days of childhood not yet understood; on parents one disappointed when they offered some pleasure one could not grasp (it was a pleasure suited to another); on childhood illnesses that came on so strangely, altering everything; on days in closed and quiet rooms and on mornings by the sea; on the sea itself, on all seas; on night journeys that rose and flew with the stars....

The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge


  1. I was just reading this only novel of Rilke's the other day and pulled a quote for a Thought for the Day for my blog.

  2. I am 56 years old and love my age... because of all those facets Rilke describes: the rich experience of life that bring the gift of wisdom. (I haven't written any poems yet).

  3. found your site through the solitary walker blog.
    and love the content!

  4. I don't know if I have wisdom, but I feel what Rilke has written here to be true and it's a good reminder to myself about gathering experiences to make a beautiful bouquet of words in a poem. And then, I see a little better how life all links together.


"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!