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Reading “Just as the Winged Energy of Delight” by Rainer Maria Rilke



Poetry Lunch S3E11

Reading two versions of “Just as the Winged Energy of Delight” by Rainer Maria Rilke, first one translated by Robert Bly and the second by Edward Snow, from The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart (Harper Perennial) and The Poetry of Rilke (North Point Press).


Thinking about translation, contradiction, how the heck we ever get any meaning at all across. The infinite possibilities of interpretation between two humans, between each human and the words we speak.

I’m thinking too about how reading poetry has changed me, and how my reading of poetry has changed. As a teen, I clung to each word I thought must be imbued with secret meaning and hung on specks of greatness I felt but could not express. I lurched and lunged for solid ground and hated not finding it and assigned solidity to everything I could. I grew up with a lot of uncertainty and I spent a lot of my life trying to solidify. You know, what’s wrong, and what’s right. What’s up and what’s down. What’s good and what’s bad.

Rilke’s idea of stretching strengths between opposites, maybe even finding strength there — it unsettled me and I think it provided a key to find my way out of forced dualities. Or at least allowed for a door. I’ve always been driven in a search for absolutes, have always craved certainty. Poetry helps me live a life that denies that desire, and provides a possible welcome even, toward what I think of now as radical uncertainty. A healthy unknowing and happy disregard for pretending toward knowing.

To associations beyond words! And to getting your hands on as many translations as possible. So much to be unearthed.


Links to purchase

Get the books here: The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart and The Poetry of Rilke.