EVENING, last light at Hidden Lake, Autumn, Eagle Cap Wilderness [click photo for next . . . ]
EVENING & THE LENS WHICH LOOKS BOTH WAYS . . .
EVENING, the Rainer Maria Rilke poem featured below,
is one of those handful of verses that till this
day German speakers may know by heart. The images
are striking, and, as is so typical of Rilke, they
find a deep emotional resonance with most listeners,
or readers, moving from a row of trees, to a stone held
in the palm of the hand, to the most distant star.
Bucky Fuller, that great poet of design, frequently
would stand in a certain way during public lectures
to demonstrate how he could sense "the turning of the
Earth," and go on to explain how important that was
to his work. "Spaceship Earth," or a sense of the planet
as a round, not flat, living whole. Mountains are the
place par excellence where we can perhaps learn
to sense this movement best. The ever-changing angle
of the light, lifting out and bringing to life ridgelines
that were just a moment ago completely flat; the play
of shadow and light is nowhere so sharp and extreme in
its contrasts; and as we learn to return, time and time
again to a same, favorite spot, like a small lake or
meadow, then the rock formations themselves work as
a kind of primal clock, marking the movements of the
day as they ever have, going back almost to the beginning
of time itself.
Bucky Fuller was also fond of quoting the great American
transcendentalist, Emerson: "Poetry means saying the most
important things in the simplest way." He went on to
generalize Emerson's magnificent insight in is whole
philosophy of design, creating the now iconic geodesic
dome—we alpinists use and depend on them everyday—strongest
of structures, weighing less then the air it contains.
Rilke can help us here, too, fore he holds the structure
or frame—his titles are the picture-frames, so to speak—
perfectly steady, while moving from one image to the next
with amazing virtuosity, like a magic wand turning one
metaphor into the next, and always without compromise
looking both outwardly and inwardly at once, like a lens
which looks both ways. Here, Rilke might help us come
to grips with the question of "what is a good photograph?"
when the computers onboard digital equipment make a clear,
clean shot almost too easy. Perhaps a "good photograph" has
something to do with giving us a sense of the living Earth
as it turns, and "the lens which looks both ways."
On the road in the American Northwest.
EVENING—a poem from
the German by Rainer Maria Rilke
Slowly the evening changes into the clothes
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you look: and two worlds grow separate from you,
one ascending to heaven, another, that falls;
and leave you, belonging not wholly to either one,
not quite as dark as the house that remains silent,
not quite as certainly sworn to eternity
as that which becomes star each night and rises—
and leave you (unsayably to disentangle) your life
with all its immensity and fear and great ripening,
so that, all but bounded, all but understood,
it is by turns stone in you and star.
Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. Cliff Crego)
Der Abend wechselt langsam die Gewänder,
die ihm ein Rand von alten Bäumen hält;
du schaust: und von dir scheiden sich die Länder,
ein himmelfahrendes, und eins, das fällt;
und lassen dich, zu keinen ganz gehörend,
nicht ganz so dunkel wie das Haus, das schweigt.
nicht ganz so sicher Ewiges beschwörend
wie das, was Stern wird jede Nacht und steigt—
und lassen dir (unsäglich zu entwirrn)
dein Leben bang und riesenhaft und reifend,
so daß es, bald begrenzt und bald begreifend,
abwechselnd Stein in dir wird und Gestirn.
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order RILKE IN THE WALLOWAS
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New English translations
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of Rainer Maria Rilke's
best poems, together
with 120 color prints
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With introduction . . .
All Photographs & texts by Cliff Crego © 2011 picture-poems.com