Quote of the Day

Then, from His place of ambush, God leapt out.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

7 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”

  1. 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.

      1. Fixed. (Considers painful unmedicated suicide to make amends for shaming the blog..)

    1. 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.

  2. 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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