a visionary (i)

A bird falls from the sky
A field is there
for the single bird shot down when no one was around

A scream comes from a window
The world is there
for the single scream shot to death in a room with no one around

The sky is there for the small bird The small bird falls only from the sky
The window is there for the scream The scream is heard only from the window

I do not know why it is so
I only feel why it is so

For the small bird to fall, there has to be some height
There must be something that is shut tight
for the scream to be heard

Just as there is the small dead bird in the field, death fills my mind
Just as death occupies my mind, no one is at any window in the world

Ryuichi Tamura (tr. Takako Lento)




there are rooms that have no windows
so in the world of the heart there are windows with no rooms 

among the buzz of honey bees
torn things and the skin of a heart
sparkling rain on a summer’s day
and dead things

you stand still, in silence
even if your heart, lost
before things took shape, 
cries out from the window

my ears do not hear her voice
my eyes listen to her voice

Ryuichi Tamura, tr. Takako Lento


a gleam in the windows

If Elisabeth has time at the end of her studies, she could read literature, but Rilke’s advice is ‘to look into the blue of the hyacinths. And the spring!’ He gives her specific advice about her poems and about translation; after all, ‘it is not the gardener who is encouraging and caring who helps, but the one with the pruning-shears and spade; the rebuke!’ He shares his emotions about what it is like to have finished a great work. You feel a dangerous buoyancy, writes Rilke, as if you could float away.
In these letters he becomes lyrical:
'I believe that in Vienna, when the dragging wind is not cutting through you, you can sense the spring. Cities often feel things in anticipation, a paleness in the light, an unexpected softness in the shadows, a gleam in the windows – a slight feeling of embarrassment of being a city…in my own experience only Paris and (in a naïve way) Moscow absorb the whole nature of the spring into them as if they were a landscape…'
And then he signs off: ‘Farewell to you for now: I deeply appreciated the warmth and friendship of your letter. May you keep well! Your true friend RM Rilke.’

Just think what it must have been like to get that letter from him. Imagine seeing his slightly right-sloping and looping handwriting on the envelope from Switzerland as the post is brought into the breakfast-room in the Palais, your father at one end opening the beige book-catalogues from Berlin, your mother at the other with the feuilleton, your brother and sister arguing quietly. Imagine slitting open the envelope and finding that Rilke has sent you one of his ‘Sonnets to Orpheus’ and a transcription of a poem of Valéry. ‘It is like a fairytale. I cannot believe it belongs to me,’ she writes back that night from her desk pushed up against the window looking onto the Ring.

They planned to meet. ‘Let it not be a short hour, but a real moment of time,’ he writes, but they were unable to meet each other in Vienna, and then Elisabeth got the time wrong for their meeting in Paris and had to leave before he arrived. I find their telegrams. Rilke at the Hôtel Lorius in Montreux, 11H 15 to Mademoiselle Elisabeth Ephrussi, 3 rue Rabelais Paris (Réponse payée), and her response forty minutes later and his the next morning.
Then he was ill and couldn’t travel, and there is a hiatus while Rilke is in the sanatorium where they are trying to treat him; then a final letter a fortnight before his death.

from Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes, where he tells the story of the friendship between his grandmother, Elisabeth de Waal, baroness Ephrussi, and R. M. Rilke. I should have only selected that quote from his letter, but i found the entire story so touching that i posted most of it. you can find the book here



Mannequin, Pato Bosich, 2009
oil on canvas, 39" x 35"


philosopher's window

Hermine Wittgenstein tells of the bewilderment of the family over Ludwig’s determination, immediately upon his return home at the end of World War One, to rid himself unconditionally of his whole fortune; and of her own dismay at his decision to become a country schoolteacher. She protested to him that his teaching in an elementary school would be like ‘using a precision instrument to open crates’. She was silenced when he replied: ‘You remind me of someone who is looking through a closed window and cannot explain to himself the strange movements of a passer-by. He doesn’t know what kind of a storm is raging outside and that this person is perhaps only with great effort keeping himself on his feet.’


turning to myself after a long journey

I have brought it to my heart to be a still point
Of praise for the powers which move towards me as I
To them, through the dimensions a tree opens up,

Or a window, or a mirror. Creatures fell
Silent, then returned my stare.
Or a window, or a mirror. The shock of re-

Turning to myself after a long journey,
With music, has made me cry, cry out — angels
And history through the heart's attention grow transparent.

John Riley, Poem (for Rilke in Switzerland)

(courtesy of the Black Sun  )


as against everything

Silence emerges from the sound of rain and spreads in a crescendo of gray monotony over the narrow street I contemplate. I’m sleeping while awake, standing by the window, leaning against it as against everything. I search in myself for the sensations I feel before these falling threads of darkly luminous water that stand out from the grimy building facades and especially from the open windows. And I don’t know what I feel or what I want to feel. I don’t know what to think or where I am.

 Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet