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Archive for the ‘rilke’ Category

If I did not resist the lover, it was because of all the takeovers of one person by anothers, hers alone, unstoppable, seemed to me to be right. Exposed as I am, I did not want to avoid it either; but I yearned to pierce her! That she be a window for me into the expanded cosmos of Being…(not mirror.)

-Ranier Maria Rilke, from 4X1: Works by Tristan Tzara, Rainer Maria Rilke, Jean-Pierre Duprey, and Habib Tengour

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There is a book of poetry so unique  that it contains four very different poets who come together to form a metaphorical map of the last 150 years of poetry, taking us through Dadaism, Surrealism, Modernism, and Postmodernism.
4X1: Works by Tristan Tzara, Rainer Maria Rilke, Jean-Pierre Duprey, and Habib Tengour

It includes Ranier Maria Rilke, whose popularity and importance grows more every year; Tristan Tzara, a polemicist of the Dada movement putting Africa oral poetry to paper; Jean-Pierre Duprey, the French surrealist whose poetry is so evocative, (so moving that I made a one-minute poem about it that you can watch below); and Habib Tengour, an Algerian Muslim master of the postmodern story, meandering through the landscape of a fertile, troubled modern mind.

This book of poetry is called 4×1, since it contains first English translations of 4 poets all translated by the award-winning translator and poet, Pierre Joris. It was published by Inconundrum Press in 2002, but has received little distribution because of the common travails of the small press…mostly the difficulty in getting a wide distribution for a rather small first print run.

History of the Press

Inconundrum Press (now Inconnue) was founded by three smart English major types in Albany, NY who happened to be good friends of mine. When they were ready to move on to other things, I took over the press and became its executive editor. That was in 2005.

But publishing companies need our support. Mine, as well as others. And I’ve parted with $11.95 for two La Fin Du Mondes (the Belgian tripple ale I love) and gone to bed with a headache and no book. I try to buy books as often as I can and to support small and independent presses. Independent presses pretty much exist solely on your direct purchases (what you buy on amazon.com leaves them with only a couple of dollars per sale).

Thanks for your time and for supporting ninaalvarez.net, Inconnue Press, and most of all, thanks for continually supporting the life of poetry.

Yours,

Nina

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The Future

The future: time’s excuse
to frighten us; too vast
a project, too large a morsel
for the heart’s mouth.

Future, who won’t wait for you?
Everyone is going there.
It suffices you to deepen
the absence that we are.

-Ranier Maria Rilke (Translated by A. Poulin)

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I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
  enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
  enough
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother’s face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.

-by Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Annemarie S. Kidder

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The Ninth Elegy

Why, if it’s possible to spend this span
of existence as laurel, a little darker than all
other greens, with little waves on every
leaf-edge (like the smile of a breeze), why, then,
must we be human and, shunning destiny,
long for it?…

Oh, not because happiness,

that over-hasty profit of loss impending, exists.
Not from curiosity, or to practise the heart,
that would also be in the laurel…
but because to be here is much, and the transient Here
seems to need and concern us strangely. Us, the most transient.
Everyone once, once only. Just once and no
more.
And we also once, Never again. But this having been
once, although only once, to have been of the
earth,
seems irrevocable.

And so we drive ourselves and want to achieve it,
want to hold it in our simple hands,
in the surfeited gaze and in the speechless heart.
want to become it. give it to whom? Rather
keep all forever…but to the other realm,
alas, what can be taken? Not the power of seeing,
learned here so slowly, and nothing that’s happened here.
Nothing. Maybe the suffering? Before all, the heaviness
and long experience of love–unutterable things.
But later, under the stars, what then? They are better
untold of.
The wanderer does not bring a handful of earth,
the unutterable, from the mountain slope to the valley,
but a pure word he has learned, the blue
and yellow gentian. Are we here perhaps just to say:
house, bridge, well, gate, jug, fruit tree, window–
at most, column, tower… but to say, understand this, to say
it
as the Things themselves never fervently thought to be.
Is it not the hidden cunning of secretive earth
when it urges on the lovers, that everything seems transfigured
in their feelings? Threshold, what is it for two lovers
that they wear away a little of their own older doorstill,
they also, after the many before,
and before those yet coming…lightly?
Here is the time for the unutterable, here,
its country.
Speak and acknowledge it. More than ever
the things that we can live by are falling away,
supplanted by an action without symbol.
An action beneath crusts that easily crack, as soon as
the inner working outgrows and otherwise limits itself.
Our heart exists between hammers,
like the tongue between the teeth,
but notwithstanding, the tongue
always remains the praiser.
Praise the world to the angel, not the unutterable world;
you cannot astonish him with your glorious feelings;
in the universe, where he feels more sensitively,
you’re just a beginner. Therefore, show him the simple
thing that is shaped in passing from father to son,
that lives near our hands and eyes as our very own.
Tell him about the Things. He’ll stand amazed, as you stood
beside the rope-maker in Rome, or the potter on the Nile.
Show him how happy a thing can be, how blameless and ours;
how even the lamentation of sorrow purely decides
to take form, serves as a thing, or dies
in a thing, and blissfully in the beyond
escapes the violin. And these things that live,
slipping away, understand that you praise them;
transitory themselves, they trust us for rescue,
us, the most transient of all. They wish us to transmute them
in our invisible heart–oh, infinitely into us! Whoever we are.
Earth, isn’t this what you want: invisibly
to arise in us? Is it not your dream
to be some day invisible? Earth! Invisible!
What, if not transformation, is your insistent commission?
Earth, dear one, I will! Oh, believe it needs
not one more of your springtimes to win me over.
One, just one, is already too much for my blood.
From afar I’m utterly determined to be yours.
You were always right and your sacred revelation is the intimate
death.
Behold, I’m alive. On what? Neither childhood nor future
grows less…surplus of existence
is welling up in my heart.

-Ranier Maria Rilke

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Initial

Out of infinite longings rise
finite deeds like weak fountains,
falling back just in time and trembling.
And yet, what otherwise remains silent,
our happy energies—show themselves
in these dancing tears.

-Ranier Maria Rilke

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