26 February 2009

The Poet's Guide to Life

This is dangerous. I'm starting to feel about my blog the way people feel about their Blackberries. The disarray of internet disconnection. Okay, okay, I'm back.

I used to be quite fond of quotes. And my interest has been piqued once again by The Poet's Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke. I love free books. Rainer Maria Rilke was one the most influential German poets of the 20th century. A bridge between classical backgrounds and the modernist movement, Rilke's uplifting and often powerful words are haunted by an anxiety and apprehension that finds them deeply rooted in the reality of lived experience. Life sucks sometimes, but at the poet's very core is his belief in imagination, connection and the unrelenting power of the human spirit to transform the world. We're all in this together after all.

Editor and translator Ulrich Baer beautifully frames the volume as the wisdom of a poet who approached writing as his life's work. I like to think myself a poet in the odd way that I don't produce much poetry at all, but carry the hope I might see the world through the eyes of a poet. The hope that my green eyes might be poet's eyes.

'There is only a single, urgent task: to attach oneself someplace to nature, to that which is strong, striving and bright with unreserved readiness, and then to move forward in one's efforts without any calculation or guile, even when engaged in the most trivial and mundane activities. Each time we thus reach out with joy, each time we cast our view toward distances that have not yet been touched, we transform not only the present moment and the one following but also alter the past within us, weave it into the pattern of our existence, and dissolve the foreign body of pain whose exact composition we ultimately do not know. Just as we do not know how much vital energy this foreign body, once it has been thus dissolved, might impart to our bloodstream!'


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