Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, December 13, 2004

The dreadful mysteries (Rilke)

... More and more in my life and in my work I am guided by the effort to correct our old repressions, which have removed and gradually estranged us from the mysteries out of whose abundance our lives might become truly infinite. It is true that these mysteries are dreadful, and people have always drawn away from them. But where can we find anything sweet and glorious that would never wear this mask, the mask of the dreadful? Life — and we know nothing else — , isn’t life itself dreadful? ... Whoever does not, sometime or other, give his full consent, his full joyous consent to the dreadfulness of life, can never take possession of the unutterable abundance and power of our existence; ...To show the identity of dreadfulness and bliss, those two faces on the same divine head, indeed this one single face, which just presents itself this way or that, according to our distance from it or state of mind in which we perceive it — : this is the true significance and purpose of the Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus.

-- Ranier Maria Rilke, letter, quoted on Mitchell, Selected Ranier Maria Rilke


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