The claim that city makes on one is immeasurable and uninterrupted

Message from

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.

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