Then, from His place of ambush, God leapt out.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
Posted: Saturday, August 24th, 2013 at
7 Comments »
German text here.
The (posthumous) text is it seems well known to psychotherapists. Rilke´s frightening last poem, written while dying of cancer without painkillers by his own choice, should be as well known to all doctors giving terminal care.
Link to last poem seems to be broken….
….though a search for “Rilke” on the main page finds it quickly.
Just remove the close quote mark from the end of theURL.
Fixed. (Considers painful unmedicated suicide to make amends for shaming the blog..)
Late addition: the main difference in sense is the definite article in German, der Gott. This would (subject to correction from Katja) be pretty standard usage, though not universal: it´s ¨Gott mit uns¨ not ¨Der Gott mit uns.¨ Unlike German, English forces you to choose between a monotheistic and a polytheistic frame of reference; and by the optional capitalisation, to belief or unbelief. Even in an apparently monotheistic usage like ¨the God of Abraham¨, there´s an implied contrast with other real or imaginary gods.
So Rilke is not completely committed in the line to the existence of a monotheistic God, even if that is the natural reading. The ambiguity leaves open the possibility of a polytheistic god or an imagined one.
I have fixed James’ link.
One of the things that impresses me about Rilke is that many poets go for an “out of the blue” high-impact last line and it comes out as pretentious or affected. But he does it repeatedly and it works, this poem is an example, Bust of Apollo too.
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