Damion Searls discusses the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke with Christopher Lydon on Brown University’s Radio Open Source. Often bracketed with Yeats at the pinnacle of European poetry in the 20th Century, Rilke makes an even better pair with Walt Whitman as the irresistible great poet for everyone. In his essay ‘Looking for Rilke’ (in Stephen Mitchell’s Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke) Robert Hass relates:
When Rilke was dying in 1926 — of a rare and particularly agonizing blood disease — he received a letter from the young Russian poet Marina Tsvetayeva. “You are not the poet I love most,” she wrote to him. “‘Most’ already implies comparison. You are poetry itself.”
From The Inner Sky, “poems, notes, dreams” that Damion Searls has selected and translated, we are reading Rilke fragments that can make one gasp on a first hearing. I like specially, for example, these “Notes on the Melody of Things,” which snuck up on me six weeks ago and induced just the sort of trance Robert Hass recounts.