Michael Shepherd

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0007 Rilke On Solitude

If you notice that solitude is great,
rejoice because of this.
For what would solitude be
that had no greatness? There is
but one solitude, and that is great,
and not easy to bear,
and to almost everybody come hours
when they would gladly erxchange it for any sort of intercourse,
however banal and cheap; with the first comer,
with the unworthiest...

but perhaps those are the very hours
when solitude grows, for
its growing is as painful as the growing of boys
and sad as the beginning of springtimes.

To be solitary, the way one was solitary as a child,
when the grownups went around involved with things
that seemed important and big
because they themselves looked so busy
and because one comprehended nothing of their doings.

Be close to things; they will not desert you;
there are the nights still
and the winds that go through the trees
and across many lands;
among things and with the animals
everything is still full of happening
in which you may participate;

and children are still the way you were as a child,
sad like that and happy,
- and if you think of your childhood
you live among them again.




(Abstracted from Rilke's letters to a young poet)

Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Poem Edited: Saturday, May 19, 2007

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Comments about 0007 Rilke On Solitude by Michael Shepherd

  • Michael Shepherd (9/15/2005 4:08:00 AM)

    I've added some more to make 'things' clearer.

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  • Michael Shepherd (9/14/2005 6:40:00 PM)

    I kept to Rilke in 'things' - but he goes on to include nature and animals, in contrast to people in this respect - those 'things' which ask nothing of you...

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  • THE LAST REMNANT OF SANITY BIDS YOU ADIEU (9/14/2005 6:34:00 PM)

    Interesting contrast too, Michael, from what our Eastern Hemisphere global co-citizens would say: Be far from things, for they will desert you.

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  • THE LAST REMNANT OF SANITY BIDS YOU ADIEU (9/14/2005 6:29:00 PM)

    Mention of Rilke - automatic 10!

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