November 11, 2011

Three Sprigs of Heather

Clara Rilke Westhoff

Never has heather so touched and even moved me as when I found these three sprigs in your dear letter. Since then they lie in the pages of my Book of Images and permeate them with their strong, serious fragrance which is actually only the scent of autumnal Earth. And how marvelous is this scent. Never, it seems to me, has Earth so let herself be inhaled in one single fragrance. The ripe Earth, in one fragrance that is no less intense than that of the sea: bitter if you could taste it and more like honey if you could hear it. Such depths in it, of darkness, almost of the grave, and yet again wind, tar and turpentine and Ceylon tea. Serious and destitute like a beggar-monk, while also like the most precious incense, hearty and resinous. And to behold it: these sprigs of heather are like most elegant embroidery—with the violet-hued silk (a violet so moist it could be the sun's complementary color) stitching cypresses in a Persian carpet. You had to have seen that. I think that the little sprigs could not have been so lovely before you put them in your  letter. You must have told them something amazing.

Letter to Clara Westhoff Rilke
September 13, 1907


  1. Such a lovely description of heather! Of course, I like it partially because my name is Heather. :)

  2. I really love his description, Heather, especially the part about embroidery.

    Remember when I took a photo of heather in Ireland for you? At Kinsale, by the river.


"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!