Category Archives: Reminder

Rilke on Writing and What It Takes to Be an Artist

“Go into yourself and test the deeps in which your life takes rise; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create.”

BY MARIA POPOVA

Rilke on Writing and What It Takes to Be an ArtistEven more complex and nuanced than the question of how to be a good writer, which has elicited answers from some of humanity’s most beloved authors, is the question of why be a writer at all — why, that is, do great writers write?
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Among the most memorable and invigorating answers are those sprung forth by W.H. Auden, Jennifer Egan, Pablo Neruda, Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace, Italo Calvino, and William Faulkner. But the finest, richest, truest answer of all comes from Rainer Maria Rilke(December 4, 1875–December 29, 1926) in Letters to a Young Poet (public library) — those invaluable packets of wisdom on writing and life, which Rilke bequeathed to a 19-year-old cadet and budding poet named Franz Xaver Kappus.
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Read the complete article
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A reminder that we will be reading and discussing Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Duino Elegies on November 22. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for more information.

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From The Sixth Duino Elegy

by Rainer Maria Rilke
From The Sixth Duino Elegy
From The Sixth Duino Elegy
Another reminder that we will be reading and discussing Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Duino Elegies on November 22. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for more information.

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From “The Duino Elegies”: The Tenth Elegy

by Rainer Maria Rilke
(translated from German by J.B. Leishman and Stephen Spender)
From “The Duino Elegies” The Tenth ElegySomeday, emerging at last from this terrifying vision,
may I burst into jubilant praise to assenting Angels!
May not even one of the clear-struck keys of the heart
fail to respond through alighting on slack or doubtful
or rending strings! May a new-found splendour appear
in my streaming face! May inconspicuous Weeping
flower! How dear you will be to me then, you Nights
of Affliction! Oh, why did I not, inconsolable sisters,
more bendingly kneel to receive you, more loosely surrender
myself to your loosened hair? We wasters of sorrows!
How we stare away into sad endurance beyond them,
trying to foresee their end! Whereas they are nothing else
than our winter foliage, our sombre evergreen, one
of the seasons of our interior year,—not only
seasons—they’re also place, settlement, camp, soil, dwelling.
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Another reminder that we will be reading and discussing Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Duino Elegies on November 22. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for more information.

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From The Duino Elegies (Opening of The First Elegy)

By Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Susan Ranson and Marielle Sutherland) from Selected Poems, Oxford World’s Classics
Rilke DuinoDuino-textOther translations suggested by Bill Ellis include:

  1. The Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke translated by J.B. Leishman and Stephen Spender

  2. The First and Second Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Stephen Mitchell

  3. The Third Duino Elegy by Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Stephen Mitchell

  4. Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Duino Elegies, translated by A. S. Kline

An early reminder that we will be reading and discussing Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Duino Elegies on November 22. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for more information.

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O GUARDADOR DE REBANHOS II (THE KEEPER OF SHEEP II)

Fernando Pessoa

O GUARDADOR DE REBANHOS II (THE KEEPER OF SHEEP II)O meu olhar é nítido como um girassol.

Tenho o costume de andar pelas estradas

Olhando para a direita e para a esquerda,

E de vez em quando olhando para trás…

E o que vejo a cada momento

É aquilo que nunca antes eu tinha visto,

E eu sei dar por isso muito bem…

Sei ter o pasmo comigo

Que tem uma criança se, ao nascer,

Reparasse que nascera deveras…

Sinto-me nascido a cada momento

Para a eterna novidade do mundo…
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Creio no mundo como num malmequer,

Porque o vejo. Mas não penso nele

Porque pensar é não compreender…

O mundo não se fez para pensarmos nele

(Pensar é estar doente dos olhos)

Mas para olharmos para ele e estarmos de acordo.
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Eu não tenho filosofia: tenho sentidos…

Se falo na Natureza não é porque saiba o que ela é,

Mas porque a amo, e amo-a por isso,

Porque quem ama nunca sabe o que ama

Nem sabe porque ama, nem o que é amar…
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Amar é a eterna inocência,

E a única inocência é não pensar…

© 1914, Alberto Caeiro (Fernando Pessoa)

From: Poesia

Publisher: Assírio & Alvim, Lisbon, 2001

THE KEEPER OF SHEEP II

My gaze is clear like a sunflower.

It is my custom to walk the roads

Looking right and left

And sometimes looking behind me,

And what I see at each moment

Is what I never saw before,

And I’m very good at noticing things.

I’m capable of feeling the same wonder

A newborn child would feel

If he noticed that he’d really and truly been born.

I feel at each moment that I’ve just been born

Into a completely new world…
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I believe in the world as in a daisy,

Because I see it. But I don’t think about it,

Because to think is to not understand.

The world wasn’t made for us to think about it

(To think is to have eyes that aren’t well)

But to look at it and to be in agreement.
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I have no philosophy, I have senses…

If I speak of Nature it’s not because I know what it is

But because I love it, and for that very reason,

Because those who love never know what they love

Or why they love, or what love is.
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To love is eternal innocence,

And the only innocence is not to think…

© Translation: 2006, Richard Zenith

From: A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems

Publisher: Penguin, New York, 2006
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A final reminder that we will read and discuss The poetry of Fernando Pessoa on October 25th. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for more information.

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Fernando Pessoa’s Disappearing Act

The mysterious masterpiece of Portugal’s great modernist.

By Adam Kirsch

The Book of DisquietIf ever there was a writer in flight from his name, it was Fernando Pessoa. Pessoa is the Portuguese word for “person,” and there is nothing he less wanted to be. Again and again, in both poetry and prose, Pessoa denied that he existed as any kind of distinctive individual. “I’m beginning to know myself. I don’t exist,” he writes in one poem. “I’m the gap between what I’d like to be and what others have made of me. . . . That’s me. Period.”

In his magnum opus, “The Book of Disquiet”—a collage of aphorisms and reflections couched in the form of a fictional diary, which he worked on for years but never finished, much less published—Pessoa returns to the same theme: “Through these deliberately unconnected impressions I am the indifferent narrator of my autobiography without events, of my history without a life. These are my Confessions and if I say nothing in them it’s because I have nothing to say.”

Read the complete article
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We will read and discuss the poetry of Fernando Pessoa on October 25th. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for more information.

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When in Rome …

Arthur Hugh Clough‘s long poem Amours de Voyage is about failure, misreading and cowardice in love. Julian Barnes salutes Matthew Arnold’s overshadowed friend.

When in RomeOne hundred and sixty years ago today, on 18 April 1849, a 30-year-old English poet wrote to his mother from Rome. British writers had been coming here on a regular basis for a century and more. In 1818 Shelley found its monuments “sublime”. The following year the city “delighted” Byron: “it beats Greece – Constantinople – every thing – at least that I have ever seen.” And in 1845 Dickens arrived, later telling his biographer John Forster that he had been “moved and overcome” by the Colosseum as by no other sight in his life, “except perhaps by the first contemplation of the Falls of Niagara.”
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The young English poet was in good spirits, and happier than at any previous time in his adult life. The great early crisis of his life – one mixing religious belief and employment, and causing him to resign his fellowship at Oxford – had passed; a post at University College London, awaited him in the autumn. He was a classicist as well as a poet, and so we might expect Rome to produce the effect it had on his many literary predecessors. But neither the city of the ancient Romans nor the city of the modern Popes impressed him. He wrote to his mother: “St Peter’s disappoints me: the stone of which it is made is a poor plastery material; and, indeed, Rome in general might be called a rubbishy place; the Roman antiquities in general seem to me only interesting as antiquities, and not for any beauty … The weather has not been very brilliant.”

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A final reminder that on September 27 we will be reading and discussing Great Narrative Poetry of the Victorian era.

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Another reminder that registration for the fall sessions is now open

reminderAnother reminder that registration for the September 27, October 25 and November 22 sessions is now open. Please register online, in person or via telephone: (604) 713-1800. The Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre has expressed concern about the abrupt and striking decline in registration and attendance at the Poetry Circle sessions. This places the existence of our group in jeopardy, making registration for the fall sessions critical. Let’s keep this exceptional troop alive!

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My Last Duchess

BY ROBERT BROWNING

My Last DuchessFERRARA

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,

Looking as if she were alive. I call

That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands

Worked busily a day, and there she stands.

Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said

“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read

Strangers like you that pictured countenance,

The depth and passion of its earnest glance,

But to myself they turned (since none puts by

The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)

And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,

How such a glance came there; so, not the first

Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not

Her husband’s presence only, called that spot

Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek; perhaps

Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps

Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint

Must never hope to reproduce the faint

Half-flush that dies along her throat.” Such stuff

Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough

For calling up that spot of joy. She had

A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,

Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er

She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.

Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,

The dropping of the daylight in the West,

The bough of cherries some officious fool

Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule

She rode with round the terrace—all and each

Would draw from her alike the approving speech,

Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked

Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked

My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name

With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame

This sort of trifling? Even had you skill

In speech—which I have not—to make your will

Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this

Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,

Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let

Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set

Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse—

E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose

Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,

Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without

Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;

Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands

As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet

The company below, then. I repeat,

The Count your master’s known munificence

Is ample warrant that no just pretense

Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;

Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed

At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go

Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,

Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,

Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
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Listen to James Mason read “My Last Duchess” by ROBERT BROWNING
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An early reminder that we will be reading and discussing great narrative poetry of the Victorian era on September 27. Please bring your own favourite examples and, preferably, post them first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections to-date.

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Pebble

Zbigniew Herbert

PebbleThe pebble

is a perfect creature
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equal to itself

mindful of its limits
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filled exactly

with a pebbly meaning
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with a scent that does not remind one of anything

does not frighten anything away does not arouse desire
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its ardour and coldness

are just and full of dignity
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I feel a heavy remorse

when I hold it in my hand

and its noble body

is permeated by false warmth
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–Pebbles cannot be tamed

to the end they will look at us

with a calm and very clear eye
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Please note that registration for the September 27, October 25 and November 22 sessions is now open at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre. Please register online, in person or via telephone: (604) 713-1800.

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