OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
Rilke's valid poetry. They are to be understood only in relation to the realm out of which they are spoken. That realm is the truth of beings as it has developed since the fulfillment of Western metaphysics by Nietzsche. Rilke experienced poetically and bore in his own way the unhiddenness of beings which was stamped by this fulfillment. We will see how beings as such, for Rilke, show themselves in their entirety. In order to bring this realm into view, we will attend to a poem that was written in the vicinity of Rilke's fully accomplished poetry and after it chronologically.
We are not prepared to interpret the elegies and sonnets, for the realm from which they speak has, in its metaphysical condition and oneness, not yet been sufficiently thought from out of the essence of metaphysics. For two reasons this thinking is difficult. First, because Rilke's poetry, in its course within the history of being, remains behind Hölderlin in rank and position. Next, because we scarcely know the essence of metaphysics and are unversed in what being says.
Not only are we not prepared to interpret the elegies and sonnets, but we are not entitled to do so, since the essential realm of the dialogue between poetry and thinking can be reconnoitered, attained, and thought through only slowly. Who today would claim that he is equally at home in the essence of thinking and in the essence of poetry? And even more, that he is powerful enough to bring the essence of both into extreme discord in order to establish their concordance?
Rilke did not himself publish the poem that we will explicate below. It is found on page 118 of the volume of the Gesammelte Gedichte that was published in 1934 and on page 90 of the collection Späte Gedichte (published in 1935). The poem has no heading. Rilke drafted it in June 1924. In a letter to Clara Rilke on August 15, 1924 from Muzot, the poet writes: "However, I have not been dilatory and remiss in all directions, fortunately: Baron Lucius received his fine Malte even before my departure in June; his letter of thanks has long been ready to be sent off to you. I also enclose for you the improvised verses which I inscribed for him in the first volume of the handsome leather edition."
The improvised verses which Rilke mentions in this letter (according to a note by the editor of the Brieft aus Muzot, on p. 404) constitute the following poem:
As nature gives the creatures over
to the risk of dull desire and shelters
none in particular, in soil or bough,
so we too are not more dear to the utmost depth