"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thoughts for seekers from a marked-up book

From Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke, plus comments from readers:

The young poet is suffering from being alone and trying to become a writer. Rilke's letters over a five-year span from 1903-1908 offer advice. These snippets, underlined by the previous owners of the book, stood out:

"...most events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has ever entered, and more inexpressible than all else are works of art, mysterious existences, the life of which, while ours passes away, endures."

"If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself...."

"...save yourself from general themes and seek those which your own everyday life offers you...."

"A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity."

"Works of art are of an infinite loneliness...."

"...be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. The point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."

"...we must hold to what is difficult; everything alive holds to it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself in its own way ... seeks at all costs to be so and against all opposition... that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it."

"Where I create I am true...."

Written in the margins were comments by Shaw, Jeffers, Roethke, and others.

"We become as tall as the storm we arrived in," Roberson Jeffers

"I will find the way I am going by going," Theodore Goethke.

"The genuine heart creates a wilderness around it," Henry David Thoreau.

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