Rainer Maria Rilke: Whoever is alone now will remain alone

27 Sep

Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Autumn Day”, from his poetry collection “The Book of Images” has been in my thoughts every autumn ever since I discovered it a few years ago, and the last stanza is particularly beautiful to me. I love how Rilke combines the richness of autumn “command the last fruits to ripen (…) and chase the last sweetness into the strong wine”, with the introspection in the last verses, for, after all, autumn days are the best for writing letters and enjoying the long walks and the music of fluttering leaves. In these early autumn days, everything seems so fragile and ephemeral; the last rose, the last warm day, the last rose-gold sunset, or so it seems. It’s only after I realise that the richness, warmth and vibrancy of summer is soon to be gone, that I cherish it the most. Rilke is a perfect poet for these days of changes.

Armand Charnay, Park of Sansac (Indre-et-Loire), 1885

Autumn Day

Mister! It’s time. Summer was awesome.
But now you’ve got to cast your shadow on the old clock.
So, let the wind blow in the fields.

Command the last fruits to ripen.
Grant them two more southern days.
Press them to perfection.
And chase the last sweetness into the strong wine.

Because whoever has no house now will build no more.
Whoever is alone now will remain long alone
to wake, read, write long letters,
and wander in the alleys, back and forth,
restless, as the leaves flutter.

James Tissot, The Letter, 1876-78

5 Responses to “Rainer Maria Rilke: Whoever is alone now will remain alone”

  1. Lautreamont 28th Sep 2019 at 10:53 pm #

    Great post. I haven’t read Rilke in years.When I was about sixteen I stole a copy of his collected poems . I loved the one about the suicide of his friend, and especially some of the gorgeous images in Orpheus.Eurydice.Hermes.After reading your post I just re-read it and loved it even more. So thanks for that! Best A.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Byron's Muse 29th Sep 2019 at 8:46 pm #

      I am really happy to hear this! I am pretty sure there will be more Rilke on my blog in the following weeks.

      Like

  2. Frank Hudson 30th Sep 2019 at 5:23 pm #

    Wonderful Rilke poem that. Now, I’m off to see if I can find it in German…

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Autumn Day | Frank Hudson - 11th Oct 2019

    […] almost immediately on the Internet. That seems extraordinarily popular as a translation subject. And I must give credit to Byron’s Muse blog who presented this poem earlier this fall which is where I first saw […]

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