Westhoff, Rilke, 1902
The terrible thing about Art is that the further you progress in it the more it saddles you with the extreme, the all-but-impossible. One does not achieve a degree of inwardness and then stay there. Seeking must be repeatedly be risked. Vulnerability must be risked.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
"Learning by heart" is something specific to poetry. That process itself comments upon how singularly embodied (taken deep into one's being) reading poetry is or can be. Poetry is the form of writing most like music, and not because in its debilitated forms it depends on rhymes and the predictable rhythms that come with rhymes. That Rilke is now read so relatively widely and enthusiastically in English is a testament to Dante's "motion of spirit" and the willingness of some of Rilke's translators to embrace that. Rilke's focus is not authoritative "truth." That is far too static. Rather, it is motion toward truth, a quest for the real with all the ambiguity such a word implies.
- Stephanie Dowrick, from In the Company of Rilke