The Songs of Solitude of Rainer Maria Rilke

by Matthew Koslowski on August 19, 2009
in Essays

In This Essay

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, Stephen Mitchell, trans.
The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke by Rainer Maria Rilke, Stephen Mitchell, ed. and trans.

One evening in May, I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The galleries were not what I remembered. Due to construction of a new wing, pieces of art were removed and yet, even beyond that, the very air of musuem seemed disturbed. Nonetheless some much loved pieces were still there as well as new pieces to be discovered.

Walking among Monet’s Haystacks was walking with an old friend who hasn’t changed over the years, who has something new to reveal to you if you’ll only just listen.

Dante was my guide in three galleries. He found me by himself; I found him consulting with Virgil; and I stumbled upon him in glory beside Beatrice and turned away to give him privacy. And, then later, I was granted an audience with the divine Beatrice myself.

Discovering and standing before two paintings by Pieter Claesz was stumbling into a cathedral and listening to a wise, learned priest deliver a firey sermon about the vanity of the physical objects of this world.

My only disappointment was that the Greek and Roman galleries were closed. I had hoped to listen to the wisdom of stones and perhaps hear one state simply, “Du mußt dein Leben ändern.”

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