Rainer Maria Rilke, from Capri, excerpt from a letter to Clara Rilke. April 8, 1907:
‘…it is remarkable how spring still keeps us waiting here; or actually, it isn’t keeping us waiting; it has begun, but it is like the opening of a show: nothing has been finished. One goes from exhibit to exhibit across the worst holes and amid great disorder. (How this southern spring display always forces such comparisons upon one.) Freezing has still not been discarded and only once was the morning such that bird voices woke me: the starting in of a nightingale, who here likes best to try her skill in the early hours, as though she weren’t determined, as with us, to keep vigil for her longing’s sake, but at most to get up somewhat earlier than the others. Of course everything is blooming most recklessly: if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. But in spite of the days with much rain, the air keeps letting the scent fall as if its hands were still too cold for it. Most spacious of all are the starry nights that blossom out moonless in the dark and scatter shooting stars out of sheer exuberance: some that fall quickly and suddenly and, as if they were falling into water, unexpectedly go out; burning ones that spring out of a star and, as if they had gauged their spring, into another star, and quiet ones that soar in a flat arc obliquely through the sky like birds with outspread wings, emerging between two stars, vanishing between two others, as if these skies were only something to pass through not to stay in.’
I know that this is an oft-quoted passage, or at least that tiny bit in the middle, but I love it. Spring was lovely this year, and I wanted to see it off properly. Welcome to Summer, everyone.
PS—This post’s title comes from a letter Rilke sent just before this one, where he continues with ‘That is why it doesn’t help one immediately and directly in artistic activity, doesn’t at first, as it were, affect the work one does, but it transforms, heightens, and develops one continually, it gently takes from one’s hand the tools one has been using and replaces them with others, indescribably finer and more precise, and does a thousand unexpected things with one, like a fairy who delights in seeing a creature take on all shapes the possibilities of which are hidden within it.’ May this be true of us all this Summer.