Not for Reading

July 3, 2009


Our language can be seen as an ancient

City—pace Wittgenstein—who

Surely meant a baptized city, for

The names come only with the blessing…


And even though he boards in Muzot, finds

A seat with a window so he can watch

The rain, a pad and pen and swollen eyes—

His naming is no longer for the living,

He knows that. Squatting, old, narrow-gauge trains:

He studies his reflection in the dark tunnels

In the glass: There is swelling, that

Awful puffiness, rust in the throat…

Mimetic passion, not rocket science.


Darkling I listen; and, for many a time

I have been half in love with easeful Death,

Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,

To take into the air my quiet breath;

Now more than ever seems it rich to die,

To cease upon the midnight with no pain,

While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad

In such an ecstasy!

Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain –

To thy high requiem become a sod.


Thus Keats, who, he reminds himself, wrote:

the rude

Wasting of old Time -with a billowy main,

A sun, a shadow of a magnitude.

Yet still it rains; the rails, become archaic

Through the Goddard Pass,

His final way of seeing mountain peaks                  .

In 1926 as the snow melts…

He stops.

The correspondence…


Tsvetayeva has written:

Your name is poetry! Exclaims:

Your name is poetry! But she always


May I hail you like this!

Your baptism was the prologue to

The whole of you!


It even smells of death in this train. Dead mice

Under the seats. Why would Marina think

Of baptism here, his baptism?


Rilke, may I help you?

For baptism

Read death, read mort, but not for ‘mortal’, for

A mort is only played if some music

Is needed at the blessing. Mort:

A horn will sound announcing death,

A horn to announce a new beginning,

Of a life’s deep death in deep

Snow…wolves abound…and not a perfect trip

Through the Alps…


Marina Leukemia on his

Baptism into the ancient city:

Herr Rilke your very name

Is a poem. You are a phenomenon

Of nature. The poet who comes after you

Is you.

My dear, Rainer; my soul, my Maria,

My blood coagulates and sinks

Into the snow. I take to my heart:

One poet only lives, and now and then

Who bore him, and who bears him now, will meet.


And never meet. (There is one only) in

A lightning field, canaries in a cage—

How could we meet?

The world betrays us,

I know, for a field of fire, for poetry

Is correspondence from a great distance

Made only greater by our love.

Great honor, great poet,

(signed) Not for reading. Marina.

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